Monday, September 05, 2011

Silt and Fish

I've been wondering about how the silt in the Hudson (and other rivers) that I mentioned in the previous post might be affecting fish, so I emailed Tom Lake, an educator for the Hudson River Estuary Program and the compiler of the Hudson River Almanac. Here's what he answered:

The "reddish-brown" color is still the contribution from the Mohawk River (Schoharie system) ... Your concerns for the fish are well-founded. Filter-feeders like American shad and river herring (young-of-the-year) are probably not having a good time. YOY blueback herring are probably being swept out of the Mohawk unceremoniously with the incredible flood waters. But then that is why fish have so many thousands of progeny, to account for such unexpected losses.

So I responded:

I'd feel better about that if shad, alewives and blueback herring were thriving.

To which he responded:

They'll rebound, as soon as we close the coastal loopholes on their harvesting. I've seen some nice numbers of baby blueback herring in the last week and I can only hope they are faring OK under the high silt load.

That makes me wonder about Connecticut's rivers though, where river herring aren't doing well at all. I'll ask about that too.

In the meantime, Environmental Advocates of New York posted this on their website:

The U.S. Geological Survey is looking for trends and variations in the amounts of bacteria, nutrients, and other indicators of water quality. Collecting and analyzing water samples following a weather event like Irene can help us better understand how large storm events impact our water resources, and we can use that data to make resource management and response decisions based on sound science.

So, did Hurricane Irene harm the Hudson River and other New York waterways? Only time will tell—it could be weeks or longer before scientists have collected and made sense of all the necessary data. Until then, we’ll save our swimming for the neighbor’s pool.

For more information on the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hurricane Irene activities, click here.

To read more about water quality testing in the Hudson River, click here.

To read more about what Hurricane Irene swept into our rivers, click here.


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