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Volunteer Opportunities Conserving Fresh Water Fishes and Ecosystems

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Responsible aquarists are usually interested in conservation, and those of us living in the USA are fortunate in having available a number of organizations that utilize volunteers to help study and preserve rivers, marshes, lakes and other vital freshwater habitats and the fishes and other creatures that they support.  The organizations highlighted here tend to take an ecosystem approach – please see the articles cited below for projects focusing solely on fishes and other aquatic animals.

General Habitat and Animal Conservation

Flathead CatfishAmerican Rivers, one of the nation’s largest organizations focusing on freshwater conservation, helps volunteers to organize local projects and provides technical assistance.  Present and past projects have involved fish surveys, water quality sampling, wildlife monitoring, shoreline cleanup, emergent vegetation re-planting and a host of other interesting and important activities.  American Rivers also hosts “River Action Day”, an annual event that draws hundreds of concerned activists to Washington, D.C.

River Network provides a comprehensive state-by-state registry of conservation projects focusing on rivers, streams and other freshwater environments.

Benthic Communities

Freshwater benthic (bottom-dwelling) creatures and the environments they inhabit are overlooked and little-studied – a situation that is being remedied by the North American Benthological Society.  Founded in 1953, this international organization is on the forefront of aquatic habitat conservation issues, and provides links to an extensive network of projects utilizing volunteers. 

Students and Youth Groups

Rainbow TroutYouth groups interested in aquatic habitat study and clean-up efforts are the special focus of The Environmental Resource Center’s “Give Water a Hand” initiative.

Further Reading

Prospective volunteers may also be interested in these related articles of ours: Volunteer Opportunities in Native Fish Conservation and Volunteering in Marine Conservation – Sea Turtles, Seals and Horseshoe Crabs.

Please write in with your questions and comments. 


Thanks, until next time,

Frank Indiviglio

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.