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Mayflies On AssignmentArrows

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From Author

József L. Szentpéteri

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by József L. Szentpéteri



Field Notes From Author
József L. Szentpéteri
Best Worst Quirkiest
    After observing millions of mayflies on the Tisza River, I realized all I could hear was the whistling of their wings in the air. The river is usually very calm and quiet, but for one or two days a year it becomes totally crazy, with all of the fish, reptiles, and birds descending on these insects in a sudden feeding frenzy.

   It got pretty bad when a million insects were having sex all around me, and all I could do was photograph them. But the worst was that dense swarms now can only be experienced at a couple of points along the Tisza, especially since this particular mayfly species was once widely distributed throughout Europe. And even on the Tisza they still are threatened by pollution and river control.

    My dad worked as my assistant for a few days. He would hold me steady from behind while I photographed from slippery clay ledges along the riverbank. One day we had very good swarms with nice weather. I was confident that I'd get good photographs pretty quickly, so when he asked me if I needed his help, I told him I was fine on my own.
    I found a ledge to stand on, but I was so focused on shooting that I forgot where I was. In one fast moment I fell into the water up to my neck. I held my camera out of the water with one hand and grabbed the ledge as best I could with the other. No one was around to pull me out, so I yelled for my dad. But he was somewhere fishing and didn't hear me. It was pretty difficult to get out on my own, but the camera and I survived.

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