And just like that, summer is over.
It has come to our attention that we here at the Society have been remiss in our blog posting. Our sincerest apologies. It has not been for laziness. These past few months have been busy and exciting. From fyke sampling, to seining, to growing oysters, to constructing living shorelines out of Christmas trees, we have been hard at work protecting and restoring our coast. And in that excitement and hard work – with several grueling days mixed in – a few things got left to the wayside, or rather, postponed. With that said, dear blog reader, we have some catching up to do:
We have stepped up our citizen science monitoring game. No longer will you see graduated PVC pipes installed throughout the pond. This summer all PVC piping was replaced with metal tide gauges/water level meters. These meters are sturdier and more accurate, and dare we say, easier on the eyes. We have also replaced our analog thermometers with newer, digital versions. Both improvements should allow for easier and more precise measurements, improving the usefulness and accuracy of our data. If you would like to learn more about our citizen science program or volunteer to become a citizen scientist, please contact Julie Schumacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our fyke net surveys ended mid-June. This year we caught 207 alewife, just a few shy of Capt. Al Modjeski’s 2006 record of 229. Despite falling short of the record – we’re coming for you next year Modjeski! – our results are a hopeful sign that the work we are doing is resulting in positive change.
Just as the death of a flower precedes the growing of new fruit (or whatever new beginnings analogy you may like), so too does the end of our fyke net surveys herald the start of our seine surveys. The primary goal of our seining is to catch juvenile alewife before they leave Wreck Pond for the ocean, providing confirmation of spawning success in Wreck Pond. This is not an easy task. Studies tell us that the majority of juvenile alewife in a watershed emigrate in one or two large pulses. If we miss these pulses, we miss most of the fish. Obviously, timing is critical. For several years we only hit dribblers into the infield, catching one or two juvenile alewife, here or there. However, in 2018, we knocked one out of the park, capturing over 140 juvenile alewife in a single seine pull. Currently, we’re at the plate, dialed in, waiting for that perfect pitch. Every Thursday we take a swing (seine). If you are interested in volunteering, contact Zack Royle at email@example.com.
Baseball analogies aside, while we have yet to catch any juvenile alewife, we have noticed some differences in species caught this year as opposed to prior years. Particularly, for much of the summer, we were catching large schools of juvenile white mullet, a subtropical marine fish that can often be found along the Atlantic coast and in brackish estuaries. Mullet feed on algae, plankton, and detritus from mud found on the bottom of estuaries. Additionally, we have caught multiple juvenile northern sennets. Also know as the northern barracuda, northern sennets have elongated bodies and large jaws. They are a schooling species that feed on small fish, squids, and shrimps.
Northern sennet (Sphyraena borealis)