Spring fish monitoring continues with a record catch of 91 alewife during this past event. Movement of alewife is tracked by instream antennas that detect tagged fish. So far we have detected several fish at Wreck Pond Brook. We are expanding our efforts this week with the installation of antennas at two other locations. More updates to come. Check back again next week.
Although fish passage construction has temporarily stopped at Wreck Pond, our restoration work continues. This week marks our third fyke net set in Wreck Pond and our second net set in Black Creek. This sampling, designed to captured adult river herring migrating into the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed to spawn, has already resulted in the capture of 21 alewife in Wreck Pond. Of those captured, 11 have been implanted with PIT tags. While no river herring have been captured in our Black Creek net, our sampling efforts are allowing us to learn more about the local ecology of Black Creek.
This week also marks our first detection of a PIT tagged fish. We currently have two antennas set up in the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed. Both are located near the confluence of Wreck Pond Brook and Hannabrand Brook, with one antenna located on the Wreck Pond Brook side and the other located on the Hannabrand side. A male alewife (Fish 507) has been detected over multiple nights by our Wreck Pond Brook antenna.
Our educational effort is also starting to ramp up. We have several field trips planned in the next month for students from Communications High School and Wall High School. These trips allow the students to explore and experience, first hand, some of the concepts that we discussed with them during in class lessons conducted over the winter.
Piping Plover can nest peacefully with the halt of construction at Wreck Pond. Work on 600-foot fish passage was curtailed after reaching 460 feet, because Plovers are known to nest on the beach near the project area in the spring and summer. Work to finish the fish passage will resume after Labor Day.
However, while the audible sound of construction has stopped, a new buzz of excitement has begun to grow among Littoral Society staff and volunteers as we await the incoming army of river herring.
Each spring, groups of river herring (colloquially know as an army) make their way up the Wreck Pond Brook Watershed to spawn. This year, the Society has expanded its fish sampling program to include a second fyke net in Black Creek and the use of PIT tags. PIT tags are tiny transponders that can be implanted within fish.
Like a fish EZPass, when a tagged fish swims over an antenna placed in the water, the tag number registers on a computer. In this way, Society scientists will be better able to track the movement of river herring within the watershed, providing a better understanding of river herring spawning habits. Eighteen alewife have already been captured this year, with eight tagged this week.
Thank you to Olaf Jensen of Rutgers University for his advice and technical expertise in helping us establish our PIT tagging program. We also want to recognize, Mario Hernandez, of Dr. Jensen’s lab, as Mario provided in field training on PIT tagging fishes, as well as guidance on setting up our instream antennas. The assistance of Dr. Jensen and his lab were invaluable to us, and we greatly appreciate their help.