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The Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count

American eel netted at Ft Washington Park NYC

Thank you to all of our viewers and partners who joined us this year for the Great Hudson River Fish Count. If you didn't catch our live stream, you can watch all three Fish Count videos on DEC Facebook Live to see the variety of creatures that showed up in our nets from Randall's Island in New York City to Schodack Island in Waterford. View all of the 2020 Great Hudson River Fish Count results (PDF).

The Great Hudson River Fish Count is an annual event, sponsored by the DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program and the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Each summer organizations all along the Hudson River and New York Harbor participate at riverfront sites to collect, count, and catalog fish species. During the fish count, participating organizations encourage visitors to help collect fish using seine nets, minnow traps, or rods and reels. Seining involves pulling a 30-foot net through the water and checking out the fish, crabs, and other river-life caught in the mesh. Participants may watch from shore or jump into available waterproof waders and help pull in the net. The fish are identified, counted and released back into the river. In 2020, we added several Facebook Live events so that anyone anywhere could participate.

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

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

What Sorts of Fish are Found?

Have you ever wondered what's hidden below the surface of the Hudson River? With fresh water upriver and saltwater at New York City, the Hudson River estuary and its watershed (tributaries) are home to more than 200 fish species. So far, 70 different types of fish have been recorded during the annual counts.
Striped bass and white perch, each caught in both fresh and brackish water, are caught most often. In fresh water, spottail shiners have been the most frequent catch. In salty water, that honor has gone to the Atlantic silverside.

Fun Fact: Anadromous species (such as striped bass and three species of herring: alewife, blueback herring, and American shad) are born in fresh water but live in the ocean for most of their lives. These young-of-year fish are frequently caught during the Fish Count.

What Can the Fish Count Tell Us?

Participating groups share results during the day to see how the Hudson's range of habitats and salinities (levels of fresh vs. salty water) 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.