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Selawik Sheefish

56"w x 65"h, August 2020

Selawik Sheefish describes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's ongoing scientific study of sheefish for 20+ years in the Selawik River. My interest and knowledge of this stems from reading research articles and having discussions with Ray Hander, who has been periodically studying Selawik River sheefish for 16 years.

A huge permafrost thaw slump was created in 2004, from the thawing of a massive chunk of permafrost on the side of a hill slope bordering the Selawik River. It dumped huge amounts of silt into the river over several years which created a delta at the base, silted up the river for miles, and potentially affected all life in the river.  The column of clear water on the right is the backdrop for healthy fish. The pair at the bottom are spawning and the eggs nestle down in gravel at the bottom of the river to hatch.  On the left, the column of water is filled with silt.  The fish are depicted as ghost fish, representing the potentially adverse effect on them of silty water. Eggs which are laid in at the river bottom land on top of accumulated sediment and may not hatch as successfully as in gravel.

My sheefish drawings were done referencing the underwater photographs, by permission, of Paul Vescei, a Canadian fisheries biologist.

Selawik Sheefish