C.O.G. Cave Invertebrate Collecting
Place: Endless and Lady's Cave
Date: Sat. Nov. 3, 2007
Participants: Dale Amlee, Anne Ault, John and Sue Bozeman, Duane Del Vecchio, Jon Woltz
Trip Report by: ddv07
A wonderful Saturday to go bug collecting in a cave! We had been contacted by a professor in California to help collect invertebrates in Oklahoma caves to be part of his research project about Cave Invertebrates in America. The club hadn't done any of this in years and years! We all gathered from various parts of the state at the parking lot of J.C. Cowboys in Weatherford, OK. From there just two cars were needed to take us to the caves to do the collecting. When we got near the cave area, we found an eight-foot trench where a new gas line was going across the county! BLOCKED!!! So we crossed country until we got to a good drop off place to hike to the caves. Wonderful weather (in the 70's)(and it's NOVEMBER!!!) so the hike to Endless was very pleasant!
This part of the state had received tremendous amounts of rain in late spring and summer! So we were expecting a bit of a wet cave for Endless as it usually has a little bit of water going through it. We were noting the creek, which comes out of the cave, had debris about 12 feet high in the branches!! Oh oh... LOTS of water came though this area!!
When we got to the cave Sue briefed us on how to do the collection process. Each collector was given a small (aspirin bottle size) bottle filled with isopropyl alcohol, three Q-Tips, and I got a special "bong-like" bottle in which one tube is put in the water and you suck the bug into a jar in which you have another tube in your mouth doing the inhaling... don't do it too hard or the water will arc over from the input tube and instead of going in the jar goes directly into your mouth.... Pa-tuey!! Nasty!! When one sees a bug, beetle, spider, tick, flea, fly, etc... (any invertebrate then just touch it with the Q-Tip that is saturated with alcohol. This stuns most of them long enough for you to drop them into the bottle that you are carrying that is full of alcohol. However, we found that some of those beetles seemed to actually enjoy the alcohol as they would get pretty hyper fast moving after a touch (my kind of bug!!). Not more than two of any one kind of critter should be collected.
We split into two groups, one that concentrated on the waterside of collection and the others on the walls and shelves of the cave. The cave wasn't just wet, but had an active stream moving though it!! There were indications that it had flooded all the way to the top of the cave roof. (but we figured that as the debris outside was way higher than the cave exit!)
We obtained a nice collection of critters in the three hours we spent in the cave. At the exit we each gave Sue our jar where she patiently transferred our creepy-crawlies into a nice clean alcohol container that represented that cave's critters.
We then moved to Lady's Cave - a cave of opposites. Where as Endless was wet, muddy, and sloppy, Lady's Cave was almost bone dry. Indications were that there was no floodwater that passed though here, it did have a few puddles but was dry over all. Hence, the animal life was basically non-existent. Humm...seems you need water to survive?? Imagine that!! Dale Amlee did get an enormous spider out of it which on it's own, filled his bottle. He didn't use a Q-Tip though... he had to stick the whole bottle over it! <grin> We barely were able to get anything out of the cave. I think four critters in all came out of it.
On the way back to the cars we came across two trees that had washed down during the flood with root balls intact. They were wedgied in a narrowing of the creek and stopping up the water like a beaver's dam. Dale A, Jon, and Sue spent the next 15 minutes playing monkey bouncing around on it, kicking the root ball etc... to try to loosen it up to let the giant pool behind it loose. Though they never did totally free it, Sue did get enough of the root ball de-mud-ified so that water started breaking through.
We finally got back to the cars and Duane received the extra bottles and 'bong' as the next weekend he was to lead the team down in SW Oklahoma in Jester Cave. (Duane's note: We're using aquarium fishnets instead of that #&^*#!!! Bong thing!!! <grin> )
On our way out we met the new landowners who Jon ended up knowing from his teaching in SWOSU. We then all went to Weatherford for some Pizza and after bug collecting comradely!
(Sorry about no pictures - Dum Duane forgot!) <sigh>
Edited: Sun. Nov. 25th - BUT... John did have a camera... now we have pictures!!
Caver Ann getting ready to recharge the lamp.
(Picture to the left)
Sue watches the flow now going around the trees.
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