One Herring in Ten Minutes

I am always in awe, especially as I have just driven part of the course, driven, not walked, that this fish has not only found its way up the Woonasquatucket, not the Moshassuck, at the confluence at Citizens’ Bank/ RISD downtown, but into the Providence River, not the Blackstone. And before that its school swam from offshore Virginia – Maryland, up the coast and into Narragansett Bay, swam from Pt. Judith and past all the streams and one large river to home-in on whatever scents are swirling down from North Smithfield and beckoning it to spawn.

Herring in Gilbert Stuart Stream in North Kingstown. Photograph by Veronica Berounsky.

The single fish appeared about half way through my watch, and so after the 10 minutes, I continued to watch for another five minutes (when I would have started a second 10 minute data point), but no more passed the top of the fish ladder. I looked into the water below the dam but could see no fish swarming about the roiling waters where the waters of the ladder rush into the tidal Woonasquatucket.

And so until my next duty watch, I think of the stream of herring plying this route yet another year in the gamble, the compelling swim to create a mass of eggs that will produce at least one survivor to repeat the ritual.

Eugenia Marks
Water Resources Board Representative to the RI Rivers Council

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