Friday, March 26, 2010

An Early Spring in the Bay


The osprey is back on its nest platform at the Bay Center! Warm weather in Rhode Island has brought an early return of migratory fish to Narragansett Bay. Fish were running this weekend, and more were seen today when I attended the fish count training for the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council at Rising Sun Mill. As soon as this ladder was constructed, a remnant run of fish was ready. This year will be the first year of a fish count, so we can get a good estimate of how many fish are returning. River herring were transplanted to the river in 2008, so next year's run should be even larger as the next generation of those fish reach maturity and return home to spawn.

An eel run has also been installed at this location (seen in the right of this photo). This portion of the ladder allows small eels or "elvers" to slither up a rough surface into the pond above. These elvers are about the size of a small pencil and will live and mature in the river for many years before returning to the sea to spawn.

Fish runs in the Narragansett Bay watershed have been hit hard in recent years, but last year was a stronger year with over 30,000 fish in Buckeye Brook in Warwick and over 45,000 fish at the Gilbert Stewart fish ladder. The Taunton River remains our largest fish run and has in the past supported two million fish. The cold weather this week may slow things down, but the run is in full swing. Formal fish counts will also begin this year at Shad Factory Pond in Rehoboth. If you would like to count fish at Rising Sun Mill in Providence, one more training will be held on April 3rd, 9:00 am at the fish ladder. Happy spring!

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