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Melanie Stiassny

Hi, I'm Melanie Stiassny and I'm an ichthyologist, a scientist who studies fish. At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, I work on everything that has to do with fish, from research and exhibits to scientific expeditions. Take a look at some photos from my latest expedition to Africa's lower Congo River. It's the home of one of the most diverse fish communities in the world.

The Congo River is Africa's largest river.
The lower Congo starts just after Pool Malebo and flows to the Atlantic.
The largest rapids on Earth are found in the lower Congo River.
The violent rapids make studying much of the lower Congo very difficult.
Between the rapids the river is calmer. Here it is easier to collect fish.
Many side rivers plunge over falls to join the lower Congo.
Here we look down one and see the lower Congo below.
Our team includes scientists and students from Africa and around the world.
This is our truck with our equipment. See the dust? It gets everywhere!
We must drive onto a ferry to cross the river and reach the town of Luozi.
From Luozi we canoe to our campsites. We stay at each for about a week.
We use cast nets to catch the fish swimming in the currents around rocks.
At night, we use a high-power torch to attract fish. And we just scoop them up.
The large catfish (R. dendrophorus) is found only in the lower Congo River.
These catfishes (A. occidentalis) are important food fish in the region.
We eat some of the fish. Then we hang their skeletons to dry in the sun.
Back in the museum, skeletons are cleaned so we can examine their anatomy.
The blind cichlid lives in river canyons as deep as 512 feet below surface.
Its eyes are completely covered by skin!
Look at these bizarre and wonderful species found only in the lower Congo!

These images have been brought to you by Science Explorations, a partnership between Scholastic and the American Museum of Natural History.