Meghna Marjadi: Helping Herring through Science

As an intern at the Mystic River Watershed Association, Meghna Marjadi helped launch the herring counting program at the Mystic Lakes dam in 2012 to document the number of fish using the dam’s then newly installed fish ladder. Before the ladder was installed dozens of volunteers had to physically hoist the herring over the dam via a “bucket brigade” to make sure this important species reached its spawning grounds.

Now a Ph.D. student focusing on anadromous fish, Meghna credits her internship at MyRWA for showing her that academic research and citizen science can work together to have a direct impact on our environment and conservation efforts.

“Getting citizens involved in the scientific process is important, especially in the current political climate where some aspects of science are under attack,” Meghna says. “We, as scientists, have a responsibility to keep science research available and accessible, one way to do that is by providing opportunities to involve citizens in the scientific process.” 

This past year, the herring counting program Meghna helped develop, documented the fact that the Mystic is now the largest herring run in the Commonwealth, with 630,000 herring migrating upstream to spawn at the Mystic Lakes. Interestingly, although we know when the fish come up to spawn, there is still very little information regarding adult spawning behavior, juvenile development, and when adults and juveniles leave freshwater ponds.  

Meghna’s dissertation work will shed light on this question: an important one since river herring serve as a food source for many marine and freshwater predators. It is vital to understand when herring enter the food web and how this may be influenced by expected changes in climate.

More information on the herring run can be found here.