Monday, May 6, 2013

The Delaware River Shad Run

Spring marks the return of the shad, a fish in the herring family, to the Delaware River.

Shad festivals, like the one in Lambertville that was held April 27 & 28 this year and another on the NY side of the Hudson River, are held when the shad begin to spawn.

Shad are primarily saltwater fish, but they swim up freshwater rivers to spawn in the springtime. Unlike some other species such as trout, many shad survive to swim back to sea.

Shad are found in all areas of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as several seas across the world.

As the fish travel up the Delaware River, there are some seining (netting) activities which recall the method used by the Lenni Lenape Indians when they were the original inhabitants of the area.

The Delaware River was so polluted for many years that the number of shad that came to spawn each spring had dwindled to an alarmingly low number. That was a clear indicator of an unhealthy environment. The shad have returned to using the deeper waters of the Delaware River as a spawning ground which is happily an indicator of the success of some environmental reforms that were enacted in the past decades in cleaning up the waterway.

Andy Still wrote me to say that "When I was a boy the river ran red from the dye coming out of Cyanamid. Greatest success story in New Jersey" and enclosed the shad photo above.

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