“I went to a general store but they wouldn’t let me buy anything specific.” -Steven Wright
Photographer Tia Chapman, before she left the Courant, made many photographs that I still admire but it was her People In Pools series that came to mind as I stood in the Farmington River, water seeping into my boots, thinking about what it was going to take to acquire a proper “rock snot” photograph.
Scientists call it didymosphenia geminata and in the days before fishing season opened this year I had an assignment to photograph a section of the Farmington River that is under invasion.
The algae is described as having the consistency of “overcooked spinach” in the Courant story by David Drury. As I walked in the River looking for a place to photograph this spinach I realized I was not going to get a clear image by shooting from above rushing water in noontime sunlight.
For People in Pools, Tia used an empty aquarium to house her camera. I decided that since I didn’t have in aquarium in my camera bag I would have to hunt one down.
Thankfully, the Riverton General Store was nearby. Owner Leslie DiMartino did not have an aquarium for sale but she did offer to let me borrow, until the store closed at 5:30, a clear acrylic donation box about the size of a 10-gallon aquarium; if the aquarium had a hinged top with a coin-sized slot. The box, said DiMartino, “is used to collect donations for the fishing derby and Christmas in Riverton.”
Despite a small leak in the donation box, DiMartino’s generous assistance went a long way toward documenting and raising awareness of rock snot’s harmful presence.
A final note from Drury’s story, “To prevent the spread of didymo, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection advises the following precautions: Remove any obvious signs of algae before leaving the water. Soak and scrub hard material for a least 1 minute in very hot water (140 degrees F), a 2 percent bleach solution or 5 percent dishwashing solution. Absorbent materials like clothing and felt soles should be soaked 40 minutes in hot water or 30 minutes in hot, soapy water. Drying will kill didymo if items are completely dry for 48 hours.”