Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Herring are Running

At this time every year an amazing phenomenon takes place. Herring, alewives and shad (all the same kind of fish) return from the sea to fresh water to spawn. They come by the thousands and much of their journey is uphill.They swim through the creeks and rivers and up the waterfalls....
They hope to get by the gulls and herons that come to feed....
They hope to reach this place or places like it.
Herring are anadromous, meaning they live in salt water as adults but spawn and are born in fresh water. Late in the summer and in early fall the young herring, known as fingerlings, will return to the sea.
These pictures are a bit murky but give you an idea of the numbers of fish passing by and the 'run' has only just begun.
There is a moratorium on taking herring from the runs where I live since the herring population, once robust and enormous, is now severely depleted, most likely due to large factory boats taking them by the millions....

This herring run is in Brewster.


  1. Hey Mary, Great post on river herring! Always nice when people post pictures of the fish making their run up-stream. And thanks for making people aware of the midwater trawl boats that continue to be able to catch river herring as bycatch even though there is a moratorium in state waters. Doesn't make much sense if you ask me.

  2. Mary - love your informative posts! Your pictures and description on the herring run are delightful.

  3. Thanks, Ben and MagicMarkings--I love writing about nature and it's fun when people read it and enjoy it ;-)

  4. Ben--I think the trawlers are just out of reach of the law...and the big international factory boats are the biggest offenders....they haul herring by the millions...

  5. When I was a kid, we always made a point to visit the herring run in Brewster and I can remember LOTS of herring. There are still some that make the journey but not nearly as many. Too bad...

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