Marstons Mills River, Barnstable 2014 Herring Count: The Numbers Are In!

THREE BAYS PRESERVATION'S annual Marstons Mills River Herring Count Program got underway on April 9th. Despite the one-two punch of a brutally cold winter and reluctant spring, the river herring returned to their spawning grounds in Middle Pond and Mystic Lake in high numbers.

Day One: volunteers counted 33 fish; five days later, the numbers had quadrupled to 140, doubling to 310 the following day. And the numbers kept rising. On May 4th, 730 fish were counted. When the season ended in mid-May, the aggregate number was over 6,000. Although this was fewer than the past two years, the numbers are still strong.

The herring season went a bit longer than normal this year, likely due to cool weather. On a cold and rainy mid-April day, two fish were counted, four days later - a beautiful, warm spring day - 434 herring were counted as they swam up the river.

The Mill Pond counting program is organized by Judy Heller, Three Bays Program Manager, with 35 dedicated volunteer counters. Three volunteers - Bob Parsons, Rhonda Lockwood, and her 10 year old son Sam - went faithfully every day, sometimes more than once.

"I signed up because Sam was interested," said Rhonda. "It's been wonderful to be involved in the ecosystem and learn so many cool things! Every time we went, we saw something amazing."

Bob Parsons enjoys the opportunity to be outside. "The scenery is great and there's always some surprise. One morning I saw a fisher cat running along the edge of the pond. You don't get to see that very much."

Thanks to all the volunteers who toughed it out during a challenging season. Their efforts help determine the status of the herring population as well as conditions of the connected bodies of water that support them.

For more details about the count check out the blog!

Judy Heller, Program Manager, Three Bays Preservation