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The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count

Exploring fish diversity in the river that flows both ways

Pulling a seine net in the Hudson River at Beacon

The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count is a one-day event each summer during which naturalists at multiple sites along the Hudson catch fish to show visitors the variety of slippery, wriggly, and fascinating creatures usually hidden below the river's surface. Fresh upriver and salty at New York City, the Hudson estuary and its watershed are home to more than 200 fish species, including several that migrate into the river from the Atlantic Ocean each spring to spawn. The count is organized by DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program.

How are the fish caught?

Depending on the site, seines, minnow traps, and rods and reels are used to collect fish. Seining typically involves two people hauling a curtain of net through shallow water. Participants in the Fish Count programs may watch from shore or jump into waterproof waders and help pull in the net. After the naturalists display and discuss the catch, the fish are released back to the river.

White perch, menhaden, and other fish caught in a seine net

What sorts of fish are found?

Over the last three years, 37 different species of fish have been recorded during the count. The most widespread species have been the striped bass and white perch, each caught in both fresh and brackish water. In 2014, young stripers were seen at sites from Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River in New York City to Schodack Island State Park on the Hudson about 12 miles south of Albany. Among freshwater species, spottail shiners have been the most frequent catch. In salty water, that honor has gone to the Atlantic silverside. However, the young of anadromous species (those that are born in fresh water but live in the ocean for most of their lives) are also abundant. These include the striped bass and three species of herring: the alewife, blueback herring, and American shad.

What do the results show?

Participating groups share results during the day to see how the Hudson's range of habitats and salinities supports an wide array of fishes, and to appreciate the estuary's vitality in both urban and rural settings. Much of the catch is young fish - offspring of parents that swam upriver in spring - underlining the importance of the river's nursery habitat. Of the 1,852 fish caught in 2014, 858 (46%) were young of the year herring; another 344 (19 %) were young striped bass. The results also show the year-to-year variability in the numbers and distribution of fish. In 2014, 50 Atlantic silversides were caught at sites as far north as Sleepy Hollow, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge - this compares to only 5 netted in 2013 at one site (Brooklyn Bridge Park) and - in 2012 - 35 caught as far north as Piermont, just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

World Science Festival's New York City Fish Count

female (top) and male (bottom) mummichogs

As part of the 2015 World Science Festival, educators from the DEC, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University's Earth Institute, and New York metro area agencies and environmental education groups conducted a NYC metro area fish count on May 30. Nearly 1500 fish of 18 species were caught and released at 14 sites. Most abundant was the mummichog (pictured to the right), especially in marsh habitats at Randall's Island and fringing the tidal basin at Inwood Hill Park. Atlantic silversides were the second most abundant fish. Most widely distributed were year-old striped bass, netted at six of the sites.

When is the next Hudson River fish count?

The next Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count will take place on Saturday, August 15, 2015. The table below shows the list of sites where public fish count programs will take place. For more detailed information about each site, download the Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count Site Details (PDF, 378 KB), or email the Hudson River Estuary Program at hrep@dec.ny.gov . Check back with this page for additions to the list, and for details on the catch results shortly after the event.


Town/County Site Time Partner Organization
Waterford/Saratoga Peebles Island State Park 2 pm NYS Office of Parks/Hudson River Estuary Program
Castleton/Rensselaer Schodack Island State Park 11 pm NYS Office of Parks/Rensselaer Land Trust
Athens/Greene Cohotate Preserve 1:30 pm Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County
Kingston/Ulster Kingston Pt Beach 12 noon Kingston Parks & Recreation/Forsyth Nature Center
Staatsburg/Dutchess Norrie Pt Environmental Center 10 am Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve
Beacon/Dutchess Long Dock Park 10 am Scenic Hudson
New Windsor/Orange Kowawese Unique Area 8 am Hudson River Almanac/Hudson River Estuary Program
Cold Spring/Putnam Little Stony Pt, Hudson Highlands State Park 6:30 pm Hudson River Almanac/Hudson River Estuary Program
Croton/Westchester
Croton Pt Park
8 am
Westchester Co. Dept of Parks & Recreation
Sleepy Hollow/Westchester Kathryn Davis Riverwalk Center, Kingsland Pt Park 2 pm Teatown Lake Reservation
Piermont/Rockland Piermont Pier 2 pm Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Yonkers/Westchester Beczak Center at Habirshaw Park 2 pm Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River
Manhattan/New York Ft Washington Park 3:30 pm Hudson River Estuary Program/NYC Parks
Manhattan/New York Hudson River Park, Pier 25 at the Lilac 1 pm The River Project
Manhattan/New York Pier 42, East River Park 12 noon Lower East Side Ecology Center
Brooklyn/Kings
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Main St. section
3 p.m.
Brooklyn Bridge Park/Hudson River Estuary Program