The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famous for its peaceful streams, but they’re apparently a lot like the interstate when viewed from below the surface.
A video posted Friday by the National Park Service shows the bottom of one such stream literally jammed with multi-colored fish — so many that they’re bumping into each other.
It’s a frenzy associated with spawning, including species “competing for a place to lay their eggs,” according to a post on the Great Smoky Mountains Facebook page.
“Spring and summer in the Smokies brings out bursts of color in rivers and streams,” the post says.
“Both river chubs and central stonerollers build nests out of pebbles that attract other species... These fish display vibrant breeding colors to attract mates and use the habitat created by the chubs and stonerollers to lay their own eggs among the pebbles.”
A fish orgy, in other words.
All this drama plays out annually in nearly 3,000 miles of streams spread through the Smokies, and “most streams remain at or near their carrying capacity of fish,” the park says on its website.
Fishing is permitted in the steams. Moving rocks in the streams is not, however.
“Moving rocks is harmful to both fish and aquatic insects,” says the National Park Service.
“Many fish species that live in the park spawn between April and August. Some of these fish build their nests in small cavities under rocks and even guard the nest. When people move the rock, the nest is destroyed and the eggs and/or young fish die.”