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Counting Migrating Glass Eels at CURB

Now in its 5th year of participation in the NYS DEC's American eel migration study, CURB recently established a new seasonal high for glass eels counted in Yonkers. 

Staff and volunteers have been busy on Tuesday through Friday afternoons counting migrating glass eels in our tidal marsh. The season began back on February 27th and will continue through most of May. The glass eels are a juvenile stage of American eels, which are born in the Sargasso Sea near Bermuda. These eels spend a year migrating across the Atlantic until they reach the East coast of the United States. Once water temperatures creep above 40 degrees, the eels will make their way into New York Harbor and up the Hudson River. They are in search of freshwater tributaries where they spend most of their lives.

Here at CURB we have a fyke net placed in our marsh which is used for collecting and counting the eels during their journey north. Our staff and volunteers check this net during 4 afternoons each week for about 13 weeks. The eels are counted and released, with additional weather and water data being collected. Over 15 sites up and down the Hudson River watershed participate in this project.

This has been a particularly exciting season for CURB as we have seen an all-time high for our eel counts. As of April 30th we have counted 1,145 eels. This breaks our old seasonal high of 1,021 eels in 2015. We expect to see this number go up a bit more since we still have a few weeks remaining in the project.

It's great to see a high number of eels this year since they are an important part of the Hudson River ecosystem. The American eel faces many challenges including climate change, coastal development, parasites, overfishing, and more. This project provides a snapshot of their migration each season giving us an idea of their population here in the Hudson River Watershed.

All of the data from the last 5 years are available on our website. Additional information about the project, along with data from all of the sites, may be found on the DEC website.