Citizen Science: American Eel Research
Students and Community Partners Research Migratory Fish
Watch a clip of the eel project on DEC TV
These nearly transparent glass eels
were born in the Atlantic's
The American eel (Anguilla rostrata) is a migratory fish that is born in the Atlantic Ocean and enters North American tributaries as tiny "glass eels". The species is in decline over much of its range, and baseline studies of migrations are crucial for management.
Teams of scientists, students, and community volunteers collect glass eels using net and trap devices on several Hudson River tributaries each spring. The juvenile fish are counted, weighed, and released alive, and other environmental data is recorded. At several sites, herring surveys are also conducted.
The project involves students and teachers directly with scientific design and field methods. Students experience their local ecosystem firsthand, and collect important information about migrating fish and environmental conditions over an entire season.
- Check out results from 2012 in the Hudson River American Eel Research Project Overview (PDF, 3.4 mB)
- Updated! Download the Hudson River Eel Project Report (PDF) (937 kB), which covers results from 2008-2012, inluding new information on fish population surveys and eel restoration projects
Information for Volunteers
Project Description: Volunteers will check nets one or more days per week. It takes approximately 45 minutes to sample each day. All gear and materials are provided, but personal transportation to the site is required. You should be willing to work outside under variable conditions, wear waders into the stream, and work collaboratively within a team of students and volunteers. The project is fun and provides important data on eel migration.
- Download our Volunteer Flyer (PDF, 255 kB)
Sarah Mount: email@example.com; (845) 889-4745 x.108
Zoraida Maloney: firstname.lastname@example.org; (845) 889-4745 x.107
Sample streams include:
Poughkeepsie High School students collect
glass eels on the Fall Kill
- Richmond Creek in Staten Island
- Bronx River in the Bronx
- Saw Mill in Yonkers
- Furnace Brook in Cortlandt
- Minisceongo Creek in West Haverstraw
- Indian Brook at Constitution Marsh in Coldspring
- Quassaick Creek in Newburgh
- Fall Kill in Poughkeepsie
- Crum Elbow Creek in Hyde Park
- Black Creek in Esopus
- Saw Kill in Annandale-on-Hudson
- Hannacroix Creek in Coeymans
2011 Eel Project Results
- Download the 2011 Eel Project Results Summary (PDF) (819 kB)
More than 275 volunteers monitored ten sites from Westchester to Greene Counties. Over 7,500 juvenile eels were caught! These eels were often released above dams and barriers to access habitat.
This spring the glass eel migration at Black Creek was later and not as high as last year. One possible reason is more rainfall and higher stream flow. Last year in Poughkeepsie there were 8 inches of rain from March through May, while this year there were 15 inches! What are some other possible reasons eel numbers were lower in 2011?
We installed an eel ladder at Furnace Brook to get eels above a large dam. The low-cost design worked great, catching over 200 eels in the first two weeks!
Volunteers at all sites were involved with other aspects of research and restoration. They planted trees along streams, measured water quality, and checked for spawning herring.
Thank you for your support
In addition to hundreds of volunteers, the Eel Project is supported by many organizations and partners.
Please contact us to find out more and sign up to volunteer:
Chris Bowser, email@example.com
Sarah Mount, firstname.lastname@example.org
2010 Eel Project Summary of Evaluations
- Download the 2010 Eel Project Summary of Evaluations (PDF) (379 kB)
Background: The Eel Project monitors juvenile eels migrating from the Atlantic Ocean into the Hudson River Estuary and its watershed. Every day in April and May, students and community volunteers get into the water to check a specialized net for eels in their local streams. This handout contains some of the feedback we received from the Spring 2010 volunteers after the completion of the years sampling. There were an estimated 250 volunteers at nine sites in 2010, and we received 122 evaluations from a wide range of sites and ages. For the responses below, the "before" rating was in retrospect, not actually assessed before the project began.
Average KNOWLEDGE of your local stream environment before and after this project
Before: 2.3, After: 4.2
Average ATTITUDE about the local stream environment before and after this project
Before: 3.8, After 4.7
Average INTEREST in wildlife and the environment before and after this project
Before: 3.9, After 4.6
Here are a few selected answers to some of the open-ended questions:
Why did you decide to help with the Eel Project this year?
"To have fun helping the environment"
"I was promised extra credit for Biology, but it also seemed like a good way to spend time outside with friends while learning about the environment"
"Because I love eels!"
"It seemed like a good approach to assist locally - almost in my own backyard"
What did you like most about this project?
"Working with students during this project and watching the progress they made in confidence and technique - was awesome"
"Touching the eels"
"Going in the water with waders"
"The people I worked with and the eels"
"Very hands on and got to be highly involved"
"Everything - I loved making new friends. I loved learning! I love hands on experiences"
What has this project taught you about your local environment?
"Ecology can be fun!"
"I feel that I help the earth by doing the eel project"
"It has taught me that eels are smart and word spreads of the giant net in the river"
"Our environment still contains wildlife like eels who need conserving"
"I like that I now know more about something I see nearly every day - the Hudson"
"It's taught me that I share my waters with awesome eels!"
"That every species is important no matter how slimy"