Invasive Aquatic Species – by Okenna Obi-Njoku

     The evening was sunny and all the participants were poised to undertake the adventure of exploring the Rhine, which was to be the last RUW excursion before summer. Around the iron tree of the Forum building they all gathered, awaiting Matthijs Courbois to lead the excursion. From the Forum, they cycled in arrays down to the Rhine in a trip that would reveal several surprises.

At the Rhine, participants were grouped into teams of twos, threes and fours; equipped with scooping nets the search for invasive species began. Up and down the shoreline of the Rhine the teams searched with little success, after which, both successful and empty-handed teams converged with different aquatic species. Thereafter, Matthijs separated the species into two groups; invasive and indigenous species. He explained the process of arrival of these invasive species and the causes of extinction of the indigenous ones. Amongst the collection were molluscs, shells, crawling and creeping insects of which some were unidentified.

The second round of the excursion was a trip to the artificial lake near the Rhine River. At this moment, the night was setting-in; also, the once warm and sunny day was gradually becoming cloudy and drizzling with rain accompanied by swirling but gradual winds. Every scoop of water revealed various aquatic species much more effortlessly than the search at the Rhine. Soon, there were numerous varieties of species from tadpoles to fishes, enough for Matthijs and Johan to engage the remaining audience in a mini-lecture.

The night had finally set-in, the once busy path to the Rhine gradually faded into silence. In groups, the participants cycled away discussing the event in comic and alluring details.

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