Life in a drop of Wabash Valley water


TERRE HAUTE, IND. (WTHI) – “This is one large community in a drop of water,” explained Peter Coppinger, PhD, Associate Professor of Biology at Rose-Hulman.

And there are some squeamish organisms in the water around the valley, from water mites, amphipods, oligochaete, and nematodes.

“So they look scary at high magnification, but this is how big they look to our eye,” said Coppinger.

They do look scary up close, check out the picture above, but they all exist in one tiny tear of water, that includes the mill dam, fowler park, and other local lakes and creeks.

Are any of these water organisims bad for you? Do they try to find a bed and breakfast in your body after a day on the water? Well our experts took the samples for you and will let you know.

“We let our students in the water for classes, I let my kids swim in the water,” said Michael Robinson, PhD., Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Coppinger agrees, “they are not harmful.”

Now that the water is cleared, these organisms pose no threat and a matter of fact our water is heading in the right direction.

“The water has never been cleaner than it has in this time of history, it gets cleaner and cleaner,” said Robinson.

Just like spiders help kill mosquitos…these trickle of tiny microorganisms actually help clean the crum from our water system.

“They help to recycle all the dead plants and algae and animals that are all at the bottom of the lakes and ponds,” explained Coppinger. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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