Participatory Science ProjectRiver Herring Conservation

About the Project

Throughout much of recent history, river herring were abundant along the Atlantic coast. However, River herring are in trouble. This project studies two species (alewife, Alosa pseudoharengus and blueback herring, Alosa aestivalis). These fish are anadromous, just like salmon, which means that they mostly live in the ocean, but travel to freshwater streams to reproduce, or spawn. Because populations have declined over the last few decades, several river herring fisheries (including the ones Chesapeake Bay) have closed. River herring are important prey for herons, eagles, ospreys, striped bass, and many other bay species. The Chesapeake Bay River Herring Project, led by SERC’s Fish and Invertebrate Ecology Lab, hopes to track herring Chesapeake Bay tributaries to identify how many river herring there are and identify any changes in their populations.

An important part in restoring river herring is understanding where they are spawning, so that fisheries managers can focus on protecting those habitats. Right now, we want to know:

  • How far up the rivers are the herring traveling?
  • Can we develop new techniques to better count how many river herring there are?