The eel migration season recently ended in the Hudson River and its tributaries. Each spring, tiny glass eels arrive in rivers along the East Coast from the ocean. The name glass eel describes the fishes’ lack of pigment and near transparency. Glass eels are the young life-stage of the American eel, an important migratory fish that spawns in the ocean but spends most of its life in rivers and streams.
The eels are collected using specialized nets and traps (fyke nets and eel ‘mops’), counted one-by-one, weighed in groups, and released into their upstream habitat, often above dams. The Hudson River Eel Project, managed by DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, gathers this data to help guide management plans for eel conservation and to engage communities in researching their local stream environment.
2020 was a big year for these tiny eels. Over 400,000 eels were caught, more than any other year since the project began in 2008. During the 13 years of the project, scientists and volunteers have counted over one million eels. This year’s sampling season was very different, as volunteers could not participate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DEC staff and environmental partners followed robust safety and social distancing protocols to monitor four stream sites for a full season. Other sites were partially monitored, or not sampled at all this year. If you’d like to get involved next year, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your location so we can match you with a nearby site.