An alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)
During the last week of March, American Littoral Society restoration staff recorded the first recapture of a returning alewife to Wreck Pond in Spring Lake, NJ.
Fish 576 (aka Samantha) was first caught in our fyke net on April 23 of last year. She was subsequently measured, weighed, and fit with a PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag. Her location was last recorded on May 24, 2016, passing by our tag antenna at the outfall pipe as she left the Wreck Pond watershed for the Atlantic Ocean where she spent the past 10 months.
On Saturday, March 25, 2017, Samantha sauntered past the tag antenna located near the Rt. 71 Bridge. It was heartening to see that Samantha survived the past year in the ocean and has once again returned to Wreck Pond to spawn. After all, the Society led the multi-million restoration project at Wreck Pond to ensure fish such as Samantha have a home to which they can return each year.
Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) are anadromous fish, like salmon, which live in the ocean, but return each year to spawn in fresh water.
The restoration of Wreck Pond began in July 2015 as a collaborative effort to solve problems that have plagued the pond and surrounding communities for decades. The project's cornerstone is a 600-foot-long fish passage that restores tidal flows between the ocean and the 73-acre pond. The improved flow is designed to decrease flooding around the pond, improve water quality in the pond, and bring life back to the Wreck Pond watershed.
The Littoral Society administered construction of the fish passage, which was funded by U.S. Department of Interior through a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Additional funding for the Wreck Pond project came from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, as part of the Flood Hazard Risk Reduction and Resiliency grant program, and the Borough of Spring Lake.
While construction of the fish passage was completed late last year, our work continues in and around the pond. American Littoral Society staff, with the help of students from Monmouth University and citizen scientists, continue to monitor water quality and life in the pond and its watershed. The coastal lake is fed by a network of streams from the Monmouth County communities of Wall Township, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, and Sea Girt.
As part of that ongoing effort, the Society recently completed the first fish sampling event of the year at Wreck Pond. Our spring sampling targets river herring that migrate into the watershed to spawn. Sampling involves setting up a fyke net under the railroad bridge that crosses the pond. The net is checked morning and evening. All fishes caught are cataloged. River herring are also tagged with PIT tags to better track their spawning movement and behavior throughout the pond and watershed.
Several white perch, a couple of white suckers, one large carp, and three alewife were recorded during that initial 2017 sampling.