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Winter Research Results

Winter Seining -

Even though our public seining season wrapped up in November, CURB staff continued to venture out into the river for winter seining. Between November 21st and March 5th, we seined a total of 8 days and pulled the net 48 times. Please check out our catch results below:

Winter Catch

Our most abundant catches included 17 shrimp (16 sand, 1 grass), 10 Atlantic silversides, and 10 mummichogs. We also surprisingly caught a red-eared slider turtle, most likely a pet that was released into the river. Red-eared sliders are not native to the waters of the Hudson River.

Overall, this was a productive catch for the winter season. This is likely due to the very mild winter that we experienced. Water temperatures ran quite a bit higher than normal for our region, and there was no sign of ice on the Hudson River here in Yonkers.

All of our winter data, as well as data from our in-season seining dating back to 2005, may be found on the seining page of our website.

American Eel Migration Project –

On February 24th we installed a fyke net in our tidal marsh, kicking off the DEC’s 2020 American Eel Migration Project. This was our 7th year of sampling for migrating glass eels, and the earliest start to the season in Yonkers. American eels are born in the Sargasso Sea and spend their first year swimming across the Atlantic Ocean until they reach the East Coast (as glass eels). They make their way into the Hudson River once the water temperature approaches 40F. This season got off to an early start thanks to the mild winter.

Eel Counts

Our first day of sampling was February 25th and we caught 32 eels. For the first week of the project we caught a total of 118 eels, which increased to 188 in week 2 and 674 in week 3. We saw counts begin to level off with 456 eels caught during the 4th week of sampling, and 49 during the first half of week 5.

Running Total of Eel Counts

Unfortunately we had to pull the fyke net on March 24th due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the closing of CURB. Therefore our 2020 sampling season finished with 1,485 glass eels, caught from 2/24 - 3/24. A typical season lasts well into May.

While we would have loved to get a complete season of sampling in before pulling the net, we were at least able to collect a full month of data. These results can give us an idea of where the season was headed. As we can see from the chart above, the high counts early on pushed 2020 into 2nd all-time for our 7 years of sampling. This was achieved without even counting the remaining 9 weeks of the season. 

Where could we have finished if the rest of the season was included? Based on our early results, we were most closely mirroring the years of 2018 and 2019. Since counts were beginning to level off, we would have likely finished somewhere down the middle of the two seasons, maybe around 2,000 eels. But there is no way of knowing this for sure, and it's possible that there could have been a secondary surge of eels in April as temperatures warmed up. Still, the positive take-away is that this season, while incomplete, was near the top of our yearly counts, which is a great sign for the migration.

Data from all 7 seasons of sampling is available on the eel page of our website.