Monday, March 16, 2009

Looking for Alewives

This email I received the other day is mainly about the South Shore of Long Island but, if I had time and it was closer, it would make for interesting volunteer work:

"Volunteers are needed to participate in an observational survey of alewife (a.k.a. river herring) spawning migrations in the rivers and creeks of Long Island. 

"Fishes that split their life cycle between marine and freshwater ecosystems provide many important economic and ecological benefits. Many of these `diadromous' species are fishing targets, either as food fish, baitfish, or sport fish. Perhaps more importantly, many are key forage fish, feeding larger predators further up the food chain such as striped bass, bluefish, ospreys, and marine mammals. Among the most common of these species is the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), a species of herring native to our region. Alewives, like all diadromous species, are threatened by impacts to freshwater habitats, including blockage of migratory pathways, habitat degradation, and declining water quality.

"Little is known about the current status of alewife spawning runs in the creeks and rivers on Long Island and collectively provide a vast area of critical spawning, feeding and nursery habitats. Documenting these spawning runs is an important step in understanding diadromous fish habitat use, and for guiding future projects to restore their populations on Long Island. This study was initiated in 2006 in the South Shore Estuary Reserve and we are looking to expand our coverage area this year to include tributaries to Long Island Sound. 

"The South Shore Estuary Reserve and Seatuck Environmental Association are seeking volunteers to watch for alewives during their upcoming spawning season, April 1 to May 31. Individuals from observer teams will take turns looking for alewives for just 15 minutes a day in a river or stream near them. Volunteer training workshops will be held on March 17th and March 22nd. 

More information on the survey and links to past reports can be found on the South Shore Estuary Reserve Website ( )

"Interested in helping? 


Brian Kelder

Fisheries Scientist

Environmental Defense Fund Puleston Fellow 

Seatuck Environmental Association
Phone: 631.626.1269


Conecticut, by the way, had helped build 44 passageways on blocked rivers for alewives and blueback herring. The most successful seems to be on the Mianus River, where Greenwich has been getting counts of upwards of 90,000 fish climbing their ladder.

I've never seen alewives referred to as diadromous rather than anadromous, by the way, as Mr. Kelderdid in his email.

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