Sunday, March 20, 2011

River Herring Run in Costal Massachusetts

Spring arrives today at 7:20 1 PM Eastern Daylight Time, and besides the vernal pools. Another sign of spring is the river herring migration. River Herring, we turn to the place of birth desponding, create a new of generation River Herring. Here in Massachusetts, alewives spawn in late March to mid-May when the water temperature reaches about 51°F.

There are 2 species of River Herring in Massachusetts.  They are the Alewife-Alosa pseudoharengus and the blueback Herring - Alosa aestivalis.  The alewives are the early arrivers and the bluebac arrives later in the spring when the water temperatures warm up more.

Well, the alewives have started to run, and they are on the Nemasket River, which leads from the Taunton River to Assawompset Pond complex.

At the Oliver Mills Park, the gulls have been gathering to feed on the Herring as they make their way up the river. Oliver Mills Park is located right off of route 44 in Middleborough and you can see the herring in the water and the gulls feeding on them.

Gull with Fish (picture taken by my son Aaron)

Easier Access for the Herring to get up the Nemansket

The Falls on the Nemansket
Nemansket above the Falls at Oliver Mills

On Wareham Street in Middleborough, there is a fish way that was constructed in 1966 to help the Herring swim up the river to the Assawompset Pond complex.

Alewife swimming

Jumping up the fish ladder in Middleboro

On the right there are a number of the Alewifes that just made it up the first step in the ladder

Since 2006, there has been a moratorium on collecting the Herring, except by Native Americans, because of the decrease in the numbers of fish. Each year, there have been an increasing number of Herring returning, and hopefully we may get back to where the levels were in the past.

If you have never seen a Herring run, take the time this spring to visit one of the areas and see this impressive site. Information on where you can view a River Herring run is located on the Division of Marine Fisheries website: