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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Exploring Boston: Herring Count Update

In "Exploring Boston: One fish, two fish, Fred counts few fish," I told you how I've become an official Herring Monitor.

It's a volunteer environmental program that tracks the health of rivers by counting the number of fish --- locally, herring and their close cousins, alewives --- that return to spawn in the spring.

In practice, the process involves lying like a dead man, face down on a fish-ladder grating, looking for herring swimming upstream.

This year's counts started on April 4. My first counting session --- and all counts so far --- have been zero.

The organizers didn't mention this at the orientation meeting, but the herring don't actually arrive at the fish ladder until typically the third week in April; so there's some time to go.

The first week in April this year, they were spotted at the Amelia Earhart Dam in Somerville, near the mouth of the Mystic. The locks were opened to let the fish through from salt to fresh water.

A week later, they'd moved a mile or so upstream, and were videoed jumping in the river at the Fellsway  (Rt 28) bridge over the Mystic River, just outside my apartment building. (Short cellphone video; not mine: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10203720661960201)

My second counting session was Friday the11th. It was a lovely Spring day in which to mimic a dead geezer lying on the dam; with cormorants, Canada geese and swans in abundance. But as mentioned, zero herring.

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I have two more counting sessions in the coming weeks. I assume, I'll eventually see a pile o' herring : the counters logged some 23,000 of the critters last year. (And that's not all the fish: that's just the fish that are observed in randomized 10-minute sessions, one per hour during daylight, during the run. 23,000 was just the tip of the herring-berg.)

Stay tuned.

Info:  http://mysticriver.org/herring-monitoring/

Herring counters Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/533333803448797/