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2021 Seining Season in Review


One of CURB’s signature research projects is our Hudson River seining. Seining is a method of sampling for fish using a 30-ft seine net. We seine from our riverfront park in Yonkers where the fish are caught, counted, measured, and released. All of our results are shared with the NYS DEC who monitors the populations of various fish in the Hudson. Our data dates back to 2005.

2021 Total Catch

CURB’s 2021 seining season ran from March through November, with much of our catch occurring during the fall Volunteer Seining Research Project. In all, we hauled the seine net a total of 445 times this year. 167 of these occurred from March – August, while 278 occurred from September – November. Early season numbers were reduced due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We average about 650 seines during a normal season.

Total Catch Each Season

In terms of our overall catch total, we finished with 5,678 for the season. This included 30 different species of fish and other animals. Our 16-year average catch count is 4,786. This was our 6th highest total in 16 years.

Monthly Breakdown

Not surprisingly, our 2021 season got off to a slow start. We had a reduced number of seines during the spring due to the pandemic, while the water temperature also played a role. Even in a typical season, our slowest months tend to be from March – May when the water temperature is still recovering from winter.

Monthly Totals

While our catches started to trend up as we moved into the summer, they really took off in September and October. For these 2 months, we had a total catch of 3,718, which made up over 65% of our catch for the season.

Species Statistics

As stated above, we caught 30 different species this year. The clear leader of the pack was Atlantic silversides, with 2,370. The next closest catch was comb jellies at 875.

Running Totals

Shrimp were our largest early season catch, with good numbers starting in April. Silversides saw a big increase in the summer, which is typical of most years. We also saw a large surge in comb jellies once we got to September, and had a steady number of blue crabs throughout the year.

Some of our catch highlights included:

  • The first ever lyre goby caught in the Hudson River. This is a fish species that had never been caught north of the Chesapeake Bay. Check out this article from the Journal News for more information.
  • The first golden shiner ever caught in our 16 years of seining.
  • 2 Atlantic croakers, the first since 2014.
  • The first bullhead catfish since 2014.

Species Totals Compared to Average

Let’s take a look at how each individual catch stacked up to our 16-year average. The greatest departures on the positive side occurred in Atlantic silversides, comb jellies, and the “herring & shad” category. The biggest negative departures occurred in moon jellies, blue crabs, and anchovies. Keep in mind that many of these departures would have likely been closer to normal if we had more seines early on in the season.

Catch Departures from AverageOther Fish Caught in Past Years

One other fish of note is the striped bass. This important indicator species has been caught in reduced numbers over the last couple of years, but we did finish the season strong with 118 out of 197 caught in November.

Water Quality Parameters

The parameter that stood out the most in 2021 was salinity (amount of salt in the water), which ran much lower than normal throughout most of the summer and fall. This was due to several extreme rainfall events, which frequently dropped the salinity to below 5ppt. During the summer and early fall we average around 10ppt in Yonkers. This may have been a factor in reduced counts of marine species such as the moon jelly.

Salinity Readings

Longer term it would be interesting to take a closer look at the salinity and how that may be affecting our catches from year to year. This is important because if we continue to see an increase in extreme rainfall events due to global warming, our salinity readings may be lower than what we have seen historically in Yonkers. This could play a role in which species inhabit this area of the river.