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American Eel Migration Project Underway at CURB

For the 6th straight year CURB is participating in the DEC's American Eel Migration Project. This study tracks migrating American eels on their journey from the Sargasso Sea to the Hudson River Watershed. Each Spring CURB places a 13.5ft wide fyke net in our tidal marsh to catch, count, and release juvenile glass eels. The eels will then continue north in search of freshwater tributaries where they will spend much of their life before returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and complete their life cycle.

This was our earliest start to the season, with staff installing the fyke net on February 26th. The net will remain in our marsh for 13 weeks with the project wrapping up during the last week of May. Volunteers led by CURB Outreach Coordinator Jason Muller check the net each afternoon from Tuesday through Friday. In addition to counting the eels, weather and water quality data is also collected. Also new this year, we will be weighing the eels to get a sense of their growth throughout the migration.

In terms of eels caught, this season got off to a bit of a slower start than recent years with our first catch on March 5th. This was likely due to a combination of factors. When we installed the net there was a blowout tide caused by strong winds. This made it difficult for our marsh to fill up with water which in turn made it impossible for the eels to reach the net. Once this relaxed we then had a cold snap and snowstorm which kept water temperatures hovering in the mid to upper 30's. The eels generally being making their way up the river once the temperature gets up to 40.

Now that water temperatures are beginning to rise, we are also seeing the eel numbers respond. Here are our counts as of March 13th:

eelchart2019.png

All of our current data, as well as data going back to the 2013 season, may be found on the eel page of this website.

CURB is still seeking additional volunteers for Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (3:30 - 4:30pm). For more information please contact Jason at jmuller@sarahlawrence.edu.