Bluegills fight terrorists to the death

On the wall of my boys’ bedroom is a poster picked up at the county fair a few years ago. It’s a picture of a bluegill with the caption: “The Bluegill: A Creature of Fresh Water.”

Bluegills hold a place of honor in our family. My father-in-law is an avid “pan” fisherman who eschews trophies for food and cooks up the best fried fish I’ve ever had. We live in Itasca County, which sports more than 1,000 of Minnesota’s famed “10,000 Lakes.” Most of these pristine small lakes are home to a number of bluegills, which serve a valuable part of the ecosystem.

But that’s not all.

I read a wonderful daily newsletter by Dan Lewis called “Now I Know,: which presents an off-the-wall trivia story every day. Today’s entry was about the bluegill, not only it’s unique attributes (a bluegill population eats six times its weight in insects every summer), but also its role in national defense.

That’s right, the friendly bluegill is on the radar of the Homeland Security Department. Many large municipal water plants use penned bluegills as a sort of “canary in the coal mine” in city water supplies. Because the freshwater bluegills are so sensitive to minor changes in water conditions they act differently when foreign elements are introduced. They are particular adept at detecting suspected poisons. (And by “adept” I mean they die almost immediately).

While no attempted terrorist attack on the water supply has been detected by a bluegill, we should all feel safer that this “Creature of Fresh Water” represents the thin, blue(gill) line between freedom and tyranny.

I strongly recommend Lewis’s “Now I Know” newsletter, to which you can subscribe here.

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