Hanging off the back of our North River jet boat offers a bit of a window into our work. This maneuverable 16-foot boat is ideal for sidewinding our way through small tributaries and backwater areas, letting us edge up close to the banks. Such dexterity is particularly helpful when surveying floodplain habitats like this one. Part of our process includes checking the quality of the water, including its temperature and dissolved oxygen content. Measuring dissolved oxygen can be an involved procedure when we want to be very precise (see Essence of life), but this handheld YSI sensor can give us a quick read on the conditions. We also survey the habitat for fish using the backpack electro-fisher you can see in the background (see Walk the line). With the help of portable equipment like this, we can jump right in to a variety of different environments at the ready.