Past Features

March 27, 2006 (Vol. 3, No. 5)

Herring Find Their Way Back to the Bronx—with a Little Help

Celebrating the return of herring to the Bronx River are (l. to r.) John Calvelli, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society; Congressman Jose E. Serrano, 16th Congressional District; and three members of the LaMer (Laboratory for Marine and Estuarine Research) team at Lehman: Dr. Tony Pappantoniou; Dr. Barbara Warkentine, a Lehman alumna and faculty member at SUNY-Maritime; and Dr. Joseph Rachlin, LaMER director.
Celebrating the return of herring to the Bronx River are (l. to r.) John Calvelli, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society; Congressman José E. Serrano, 16th Congressional District; and three members of the LaMer (Laboratory for Marine and Estuarine Research) team at Lehman: Dr. Tony Pappantoniou; Dr. Barbara Warkentine, a Lehman alumna and faculty member at SUNY-Maritime; and Dr. Joseph Rachlin, LaMER director.

Dr. Joseph Rachlin and his Laboratory for Marine and Estuarine Research (LaMER) team assembled with other biologists and community groups March 21 at the Bronx Zoo to release 201 alewife herring into the Bronx River.

The fish restocked the heavily industrialized waterway with herring for the first time since 1643. That's when Dutch settlers began building dams along the river that kept the herring from swimming upriver to spawn. The alewives were collected from Bride's Brook in East Lyme, Connecticut, and transported to the zoo, where they were released via chute into the river. Congressman José E. Serrano was on hand to release a few netted fish into the river as well. His support in Washington over the years has made the funding possible to restore, research and restock the river.

Dr. Rachlin and his LaMER team have been studying fish and invertebrates in the Bronx River since 1999. They have found that the river is home to a surprisingly wide range of species, including the naked goby, blue crabs and killifish, and serves as a nursery ground for mehadden, winter flounder and striped bass. The Bronx River is the only free-flowing river in New York City.

Biologists from Lehman and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation's Natural Resource Group will monitor the herring over the coming weeks to determine whether they have successfully spawned. It is expected that juvenile alewives will migrate to Long Island Sound and other coastal waters, and return to the Bronx River in three-to-five years as adults, when they are ready to spawn.

The project was funded by a federal partnership grant to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Bronx Zoo's parent organization, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which was secured by Congressman Serrano.