The Arrival of the Alewives

Submitted by Catherine Schmitt on Thu, 05/02/2013 - 10:03


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The alewives are running.

Jeffrey Pierce, Executive Director of the Alewife Harvesters of Maine, reports that alewives are appearing coastwide. I contacted Jeff because of an interest in tracking the timing of the alewife run as a way to extend the Signs of the Seasons phenology monitoring program to coastal flora and fauna.

The timing of the run is cued by water flow and temperature, and probably ocean conditions like the position of the Gulf Stream. Pierce said he starts taking bets at the end of March, and his fish typically come in around the third week in April. (In 2012, the record warmth in early spring triggered a migration in late March.)

Alewives and blueback herring once filled nearly every coastal stream and river in Maine—that’s a lot to track. The most knowledge comes from the populations that are harvested commercially, but local community restoration projects are highlighting other runs, too. 

Feel free to send me an email to let me know when the alewives first arrive in your backyard, and I’ll add it to the map.