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The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count

American eel netted at Ft Washington Park NYC

The 2019 Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count took place from Manhattan to Peebles Island on Saturday, August 10, 2019. During the count, 42 species of fish were observed. The Atlantic silverside, a brackish to salt water fish, was observed most often. The 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 River estuary and New York Harbor, explore the diverse, slippery, wriggly, and fascinating creatures usually hidden below the river's surface. The programs are free and family-friendly. For a list of sites, download the 2019 site list (PDF).

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.

Watch a clip about seining in the Hudson River. and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.
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, 67 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 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. The results also show the year-to-year variability in the numbers and distribution of fish. For more details, download the 2019 Great Hudson River Fish Count results (PDF).