The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count

Explore fish diversity in the river that flows both ways

American eel netted at Ft Washington Park NYC

The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count is a one-day event produced by the Hudson River Estuary Program each summer, during which naturalists and visitors at many sites along the Hudson explore the diverse, slippery, wriggly, and fascinating creatures usually hidden below the river's surface. The Estuary Program also helps to organize the World Science Festival's Great Fish Count in the New York City metro area each spring.

How are the fish caught?

Depending on the site, seines, minnow traps, and rods and reels are used. Participants may don waders to help haul a seine - a curtain of net used in shallow water - or try their luck with a fishing rod. After 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?

Fresh upriver and salty at New York City, the Hudson estuary and its watershed are home to more than 200 fish species. To date, 56 of these have been recorded during the count. Most widespread have been striped bass and white perch, each caught in both fresh and brackish water. In 2015, young stripers were seen at sites from Brooklyn Bridge Park on the East River in New York City to Schodack Island State Park about 12 miles south of Albany. In fresh water, 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 striped bass and three species of herring: 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 a wide array of fishes, and to appreciate the estuary's vitality in both urban and rural settings. Much of the catch is young fish, underlining the importance of the river's nursery habitat. Of 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 2015, 1,175 Atlantic silversides were counted, including 20 netted at Little Stony Point in Cold Spring - some 55 miles north of New York Harbor. In 2014, only 50 silversides were caught, only as far upriver as Sleepy Hollow, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Even fewer were netted in 2013 - 5, all caught at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Over the fish count's six years, participants have found 65 varieties of fish. The record number of individuals counted was 2,994 in 2015. In 2017, the species count reached a new high - 48 kinds of fish were found, while the count of individual fish totaled 1,325. The most commonly caught fish was the striped bass - 479 of them. Among the oddities found were a feather blenny at Pier 25 in Hudson River Park, Manhattan, and a bowfin at Peebles Island State Park in Waterford. A large and very orange goldfish brought a smile to the faces of participants at Peebles Island, as did an odd-looking flatfish called a hogchoker, netted at Kingston Point. For more details, download the 2017 Great Hudson River Fish Count results [PDF, 49KB] .

The 2018 Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count

hogchoker

The 7th Annual Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count will take place at 19 sites on the Hudson from Manhattan to Peebles Island on Saturday, August 11, 2018. The table below lists the location, times, and leaders of the scheduled fish count programs. The programs are free and family-friendly. For more information please contact Rebecca Houser, rebecca.houser@dec.ny.gov.

Locations for the 2018 Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count

Location TIme Site Organization(s)
Waterford 10:30 AM-1:00 PM Peebles Island State Park DEC/Hudson River Estuary Program/Mohawk River Basin Program/NYS Parks
Castleton 11:00 AM-1:00 PM Schodack Island State Park Rensselaer Land Trust/River Haggie Outdoors
Albany 10:00 AM -1:00 PM Corning Preserve DEC
Kingston 5:00-6:30 PM Kingston Point Park Hudson River Estuary Program/Forsyth Nature Center
Staatsburg 9:30-11:30 AM Norrie Point Environmental Center Hudson River Research Reserve
Poughkeepsie 9:00-11:00 AM Waryas Park Scenic Hudson
Beacon 2:00- 4:00 PM Long Dock Scenic Hudson
New Windsor 4:00- 5:30 PM Kowawese Unique Area Hudson River Almanac/DEC
Cold Spring 3:30 - 5:00 PM Little Stony Point Hudson River Estuary Program, DEC
Croton 3:00-4:30 PM Croton Point Park Westchester County Parks
Sleepy Hollow 2:00-4:00 PM Kathryn Davis Riverwalk Ctr, Kingsland Pt Park Teatown Lake Reservation
Piermont 12:30-2:30 PM Piermont Pier Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Yonkers 1:00-3:00 PM Beczak Center at Habirshaw Park Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River
Manhattan 3:00-6:00 PM Riverside Park, 66th and Hudson Street in Riverside Park Clearwater
Manhattan 12:00-4:00 PM Hudson River Park, Pier 25 Hudson River Park Trust
Manhattan 1:00- 4:00 PM Randall's Island, Harlem River N of 103rd St bridge Randall's Island Park Alliance
Brooklyn 2:30-4:00 PM Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 4 Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy
Queens (northeast) 9:00 AM Fort Totten Park Nyack College/Peter Park/NYC Parks/Alley Pond EEC
Staten Island 9:00 AM-12:00 PM Fresh Kills DEC/NYC Parks

World Science Festival Great Fish Count held on June 2, 2018

DEC educators also help to organize an annual Great Fish Count on estuarine waters in the New York City metro area as part of the World Science Festival. Last year's edition found 28 species and about 1,034 individual fish (download the 2018 World Science Festival Fish Count results [PDF, 85 KB]). For more information, use the link to the World Science Festival website in the right-hand navigation column.

Submit your 2018 WSF count data.

Watch a clip about seining in the Hudson River and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.