Camera counts fish at Ipswich dam 6-6-15

Camera counts fish at Ipswich dam
Wicked Local Ipswich

By Lauren Bartlett

Posted Jun. 6, 2015 at 7:29 PM

Located below the waters of the Ipswich River, the Ipswich River Watershed Association installed a camera to track the population of fish at the River Walk dam's fish ladder.
Each spring, the fish counting begins and this is to determine the amount of herring that swim up the fish latter.
This isn't just to count the number of fish, but to recognize that they'll breed in the river. Despite the installation of the camera, there are still volunteers that sign up to count during the day.
"The camera runs 24/7," said Ryan O'Donnell, the Ipswich River Watershed Association coordinator. "The camera isn't intended to replace volunteers. This is still a great way to get people involved."
The camera runs on a computer and the software, called I Spy, can run any camera and can be set up and used to watch outside homes, as a security camera as well. There is actual fish-counting software made specifically to count fish, but that specific software is expensive, costing thousands of dollars.
"It has a motion detector on it," Wayne Castonguay, watershed association director, said. "So if something swims by, it'll record for 12 seconds. It gives an idea as to how many fish swim past the dam."
This camera also tracks other wildlife that swim underneath the surface and the association hopes to see other wildlife activity.
Over the years, the number of herring has declined due to the change in habitat and this caused them to stop breeding. Ipswich once had a strong herring run. One year, O'Donnell had only seen 14 fish from April 1 to early June. "This is to raise awareness of the low population and the need for restoration," O'Donnell said.
The Ipswich River Watershed Association received grant funding for the camera from the Norcross Foundation and the Quebec Labrador Foundation.
There are now hours of footage to review and despite the temperature of the water being more on the cool side, the run has been a little late. There are still fish that are moving in the waters.
"This will help us receive more accurate data," Castonguay said. "There are certain type of fish that we want to see be brought back." Types of fish that are called anadromous fish —fish that live in the ocean, but swim to fresh water to breed. Fish like salmon, striped bass, alewives and herring.
There are rivers, like the Mystic River, that have recorded thousands of herring.
With the installation of the camera, the data will help the association with the Ipswich River fish count.

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