Fish Tale

A fish went up to a police officer.  He said, “Fish fish”.  The officer, confused, muttered “no, no that’s not right” back to the fish.  The fish repeated what it said, this time seriously undulating its pectorals.  The officer happened to be in the middle of fleeing the scene of the crime, but the fish didn’t understand this.  The officer did, and he thought this fish might be a hallucination.  Maybe it’s telling him to go back and fix the situation he had caused under the awning by the 7/11.  But if there’s actually a fish seriously undulating its pectorals in front of him, maybe he could use it to make everyone forget about what he had done.  I mean, there hasn’t been an emotional fish in the news for a while.  He could work it into his alibi somehow.  Officers don’t commit crimes.  The fish now looked as if it were trying to call to him, its mouth forming what looked like were a’s, e’s, i’s and o’s.  To prove himself wrong, the officer moved his hand to touch the fish.  That would determine what was actually going on.  His hand passed right through its midsection, coming out clean on the other side.  Was it not real?  “This is crazy, I’m leaving” he said, although he was sure he’d heard it start singing.  As he left the fish behind, he realized he’d fled the scenes of two crimes that day.

The Amazing Alewife

The Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) or River Herring, is one of the most important anadromous fish in the coastal ecosystem.  An anadromous fish is a fish that spends most of its life out in the ocean, but swims into freshwater bodies to spawn.  These fish school by the thousands in mid-spring, coming from all directions searching for their spawning grounds.  They make their way up turbulent, swelling spring rivers in search of calmer lakes and ponds to drop their eggs.  This mass migration of fish into coastal fresh water bodies brings a huge nutrient influx to the local ecosytem.  This food source is important for birds like eagles, osprey, herons, and gulls.  Many mammals also take advantage of this influx, as these fish are easy pickings when they come to a bottleneck in a river or stream.  Striped bass will also follow these fish up river and prey upon them as well.

This adapted anadromous behavior has been beneficial to the species for millenia, but it ran into problems when people began constructing mill dams along rivers throughout northeast coastline.  Dams constructed along rivers to power sawmills had the unintended consequence of blocking millions of alewives access to their spawning grounds.  Alewife populations quickly plumetted.  Over the past 100 years, these mill dams have become obsolete, and many of them have been descontructed, restoring alewives access to spawning areas.  These fish have very high fecundity, one female capable of laying 70,000 eggs in a season, and thus are quick to recover when given the opportunity.  To learn more about the push for alewife restoration, counting efforts, and dam removal, visit the Herring Alliance.