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Fish Migration on the Connecticut River | Connecting Point | April 29, 2019

Fish Migration on the Connecticut River | Connecting Point | April 29, 2019


>>THE CONNECTICUT RIVER, NEW
ENGLAND’S LONGEST RUNNING RIVER AT OVER 400 MILES, HOSTS A
NUMBER OF SPECIES OF ANNADROMUSS FISH. THESE ARE FISH THAT SPEND THE
EARLY PORTION OF THEIR LIVES IN FRESH WATER AND THEIR ADULT
LIVES IN SALT WATER, ONLY TO RETURN TO THE FRESH WATER TO
SPAWN. WITH MIGRATION SEASON ONLY A
COUPLE OF WEEKS AWAY, CONNECTING POINT’S BRIAN SULLIVAN TRAVELED
TO SEVERAL SPOTS ALONG THE CONNECTICUT RIVER TO CHECK IN ON
THIS ANNUAL RITE OF NATURE.>>FISH LADDERS AND FISH WAVES
WHERE THEY EXIST SO DO FOOD HAMLETS. THE DESIGN ALLOWS FOR MIGRATING
FISH TO QUITE LITERALLY CLIMB AGAINST THE CURRENT AND OVER THE
DAM WHICH IN THE CASE OF THE ONE HERE AT MILL STREET IN EAST
HAMPTON STANDS AT 6 FEET IN HEIGHT AND GOES TO THE UPPER
REACHES OF THE RIVER. ALTHOUGH DOZENS OF FISH HAVE
BEEN SPOTTED IN SINCE 2017 WITH FISH MIGRATION SEASON SET TO
START IN MAY, MANY ARE MORE LIKELY TO SEE HERRING AND SHAD
TO BE UPSPAN. IT’S 3 MILES FROM ITS
COMPLEMENTS WITH THE CONNECTICUT RIVER AND AS ANYONE WHO’S
RECENTLY PASSED OVER THE VIETNAM VETERANS BRIDGE IN HOLYOKE CAN
ATTEST, NEW ENGLAND’S LONGEST RIVER HAS SOME MIGHTY STRONG
FLOW LATELY. HERE AT THE FISH WAY THEY EMPLOY
WHAT’S KNOWN AS A FISH ELEVATOR OR FISH LIFT TO LIFT OVER THE
OLDEST DAMS IN THE STATE. UP NORTH TRAVEL IS AROUND THIS
BRIDGE HAS GOTTEN AN EYE FULL AND EARFUL HERE AS WELL AS
WATERFALLS TOUCHDOWN AT A STEADY CLIP. JUST BEHIND ME THE WATER IS
POURING INTO THE CONNECTICUT RIVER QUITE HEAVILY. HOW HEAVY? ABOUT 70,000 CUBIC FEET PER
SECOND BUT THAT’S CONDITIONS-BASED AND HIGHLY
REGULATED BY THE HYDROELECTRIC COMPANY THAT CONTROLS THE WATER. NORMALLY DURING THE SUMMERTIME
MONTHS THEIR ONLY REQUIRED AT 125 CUBIC FEET PER SECOND SO
THAT’S QUITE A CONTRAST AND TO MY LEFT IS THE POWER CANAL AND
THAT STAYS AT A STEADY HEIGHT AND DEPTH YEAR-ROUND AND FLOWS 2
MILES DOWNSTREAM TO A RESEARCH FACILITY THAT STUDIES AMONG
OTHER THINGS FISH MIGRATION IN THE CONNECTICUT RIVER. THE NAME MIGHT BE THE
UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY BUT BIOLOGY IS THE ORDER OF THE
DAY AT THE TURNERS FALLS CAMPUS. HERE AT THE WET LAB THEY STUDY
AQUATIC LIFE.>>THIS IS ALL THE SPECIES THAT
INCLUDES STURGEON, RIVER HERRING, SHAD, SALMON, STRIPED
BASS THAT MIGRATE TO FRESHWATER AND SPAWN THERE; SPEND GENERALLY
A VARIABLE PERIOD IN FRESHWATER BUT THEN HAVE TO MOVE TO THE
OCEAN FOR THE MAJOR GROWTH PHASE OF THEIR LIFE HISTORY BUT THEN
COME BACK AGAIN TO FRESHWATER FOR SPAWNING.>>THE SHORT NOSED SPURGEON IS A
LANDLOCKED WHICH UTILIZING THE RIVER YEARLONG WITHOUT HAVING TO
MOVE. MCCORMICK SPECIES IS THE
ATLANTIC STURGEON WHICH CAN SPEND ANYWHERE FROM 20 TO 40
YEARS IN THE OCEAN BEFORE RETURNING TO SPAWN AND THAT
SOMEWHAT PREHISTORIC LOOK ABOUT THEM, THAT’S NO ACCIDENT. STURGEON OR SPECIES LIKE THEIRS
HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR 275 MILLION YEARS, MAKING THEM ONE OF THE
OLDEST VERT BRAT AQUATIC SPECIES AND THEY’RE BEING STUDY AT THE
USGS.>>WE WANT TO STUDY THE EXISTING
PONGSES AND, HOPEFULLY, IN THE LONG-TERM EXPAND THE ATLANTIC
STURGEON WHICH HAS SUFFERED WITH HABITAT BY THE DAMS. WE WANT TO PROVIDE CLEANER
RIVERS WE WANT TO PROVIDE BETTER FISH PASSAGE, REMOVE DAMS THAT
ARE NOT ADDING TO THE SOCIAL GOOD AND GET RID OF THOSE SO
THEY’RE NOT AN IMPACT OF FISH MOVING UP AND DOWNSTREAM.>>MEANWHILE, ON THE OTHER SIDE
OF THE LAB IS A SPECIES THAT HOLLYWOOD HAS ENJOYED TURNING
THE THING OF NIGHTMARES ALTHOUGH AT THIS POINT IN THEIR LIVES
THEY DON’T SEEM SO TERRIFYING. THIS IS AN EEL STARTS IN
FRESHWATER. THEY DON’T BECOME PARASITIC
UNTIL THEY HEAD OUT TO SEA AS THEY MATURE INTO ADULTS AND THEY
DON’T EVEN REMOTELY RESEMBLE THE MAN EATING MONSTERS OF HORROR
MOVIE LORE. SOME PEOPLE EAT THEM.>>I’M FROM PORTUGAL AND THEY’RE
LIKE A DELICA COUNTER Y AND I WAS ALWAYS INTRIGUED BY THE
ASPECT OF THE SEA LION PREY THAT’S THREATENING IN LOOKS BUT
NOT THREATENING WHATSOEVER.>>IN FRESHWATER THE LAND PREY
IS A SOURCE OF FOODS FOR FISH AND MALLAMS WHILE BRINGING
NUTRIENTS FOR THE ECOSYSTEM FOR SCIENTISTS THEIR BIOLOGICAL
SYSTEMS ARE A VALUABLE SOURCE OF ECOLOGICAL MATERIAL.>>THEY ARE WITH REGULAR FISHES
THAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT FOR MORE THAN 550 MILLION YEARS SO THEY
HAVE BEEN LONGER HERE THAN, FOR INSTANCE, DINOSAURS AND THAT BY
ITSELF IS BAG STUDYING A SPECIES THAT HAS BEEN COEXISTING WITH SO
MANY EVOLUTIONARY PEERS IN THEIR HISTORY AND THEY’RE STILL AROUND
AND THEY’RE STILL THRIVING WELL.>>FISH WAVES FOUND IN EAST
HAMPTON, HOLYOKE AND JUST UP THE ROAD UP HERE AT TURNERS FALLS
ARE A MEANS FOR THEM TO CONTINUE TO THRIVE. THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR
MAKING BETTER FISH WAYS, WELL, THEY CAN BE FOUND AT THE CENTERS
FISH FACILITY WHERE DURING FISH MIGRATION THEY TAKE IN WATER
FROM THE POWER CANAL AND RUN IT THROUGH ANY ONE OF THESE 3
FLUMES HERE ON THE BOTTOM FLOOR TO TEST DIFFERENT PASSAGEWAYS.>>THERE’S REALLY NO FACILITY
LIKE THIS IN THE WORLD THAT CAN DO THAT. THERE’S OTHER HYDRAULIC LABS BUT
THEY’RE USUALLY QUITE SMALL AND OUR ABILITY TO MOVE LARGE
VOLUMES OF WATER THROUGH THESE STRUCTURES BASICALLY SIMULATES
WHAT A FISH WOULD BE EXPERIENCING WHEN IT WENT
THROUGH ONE OF THESE STRUCTURES.>>AND TO SIMULATE THAT
SIMULATION, THEY’VE GOT A LAB FOR THAT HERE TOO BECAUSE THIS
PLACE IS AFTER ALL A RESEARCH FACILITY, NOT A FISH HATCHERY. THIS IS WHERE SAFER AND MORE
EFFECTIVE WAYS OF FISH PASSAGE ARE DESIGNED AND SPECIES OF FISH
THAT MAY NOT BE AS WELL KNOWN BUT ARE JUST AS IMPORTANT TO THE
ECOSYSTEM ARE STUDIED.>>OUR PURPOSE IS TO REALLY KIND
OF EDUCATE PEOPLE AS TO WHAT’S OUT THERE, WHAT DO THEY NEED IN
ORDER TO SURVIVE AND TO THRIVE IN RIVER SYSTEMS THAT WE’RE
TRYING TO RESTORE.>>THAT RESTORATION COULD
INCLUDE THE CONNECTICUT RIVER. THE WATER MAY BE FLOWING IN
ABUNDANCE NOW BUT THIS IS BY NO STRETCH THE NORM, HOWEVER, THE
HYDROELECTRIC PLANT IN TURNERS FALLS IS GOING THROUGH A
RELICENSING PROCESS AND WHAT COULD BE CREATED WITH BETTER
WATER FLOW WHICH WOULD BENEFIT NOT JUST THE CREATURES LIVING
UNDERWATER.>>PUTTING MORE WATER IN THE
RIVER WOULD ALSO BE GOOD FOR RECREATION. PEOPLE GO DOWN HERE AND THEY
FISH AND PEOPLE WANT TO USE IT FOR PADDLING AND WE’RE HOPING
THAT WITH WATER ACTUALLY IN THE RIVER PEOPLE CAN USE THAT FOR
ALL THEIR ACTIVITIES.

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