Intern Blog Takeover: Brenna

We have 7 interns this summer and we wanted to make sure they had the chance to tell our great supporters about what they’ve been up to! Check back each week to hear from them…

Hear what Brenna has to say…



Brenna is helping us FISH for answers about the fish consumption advisories on the Coosa!

These past several weeks working with the Coosa Riverkeeper have been very eye-opening for me. As the Fish Guide Intern I have been filling my time with lots of research and data exploration. I have sifted through many spreadsheets sent to us from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and many documents by the State Department of Health and other papers on freshwater fish and the toxins they encounter.

My goal is to improve the existing fish consumption advisories that the state issues based on the demographics of the counties in our basin and the facts we know about bioaccumulation in the fish people consume most often here. Pouring over the thousands of fish that have been tested for toxins by ADEM to create these advisories, I have found that risk is higher in certain areas and certain populations of fish.

Fish accumulate toxins like mercury and PCBs differently depending on their species and gender and also the time of year. I have been working to find a way to include this knowledge in our fish advisories to the public in a way that they can use and understand before they consume potentially harmful fish. I hope these advisories can keep people safe from harmful contaminants and also educate people on the path that toxins take once they enter our watersheds, and how this affects community health in the long run.

My next goal for this position is to help spread the word. Many people who are utilizing the Coosa for subsistence fishing do not know about the specific advisories, how to access them, and how to mitigate their risk of exposure once they take their catches home. I hope to join forces with my fellow interns who are focusing on outreach and marketing to find ways to access these anglers and get this information to them in a way that they can understand and appreciate. I also hope to spread the good work that the Riverkeeper organization is doing to everyone that enjoys the Coosa, and encourage them to connect with and support the Waterkeeper Alliance in any way they can. I hope that fishermen throughout northeast and central Alabama think of the Coosa Riverkeeper and other members of the Waterkeeper Alliance as their friendly resource for fishing tips, advice and information about their river.

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