Mystic River Watershed Association Uses New Underwater Video Camera This May For Annual Herring Count Project

ARLINGTON, MA  - May 8, 2017 -  A new project led by the Mystic River Watershed Association is broadcasting the river herring migration in the Mystic River this spring, and you are needed to help make it a success.  A motion-sensor underwater video camera at the Upper Mystic Lake dam fish ladder in Medford now records the herring migration 24 hours a day. These video clips are uploaded to the new project website ( in real time so that anyone from anywhere can help count how many fish are migrating up the Mystic River. With this data, the Mystic River Watershed Association will more accurately track how the herring migration changes from year to year, and thus better understand this valuable species. Counting just takes one minute or less.

Last year an estimated 448,060 river herring swam by Everett, Somerville, Medford and Arlington on a mission to reach the Mystic Lakes – a seven mile upstream journey. Heralding from the ocean, these tenacious fish delve into fresh water to spawn each spring when water temperatures reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit. River herring refers to two species, Alewives and blueback herring, however due to their similarities they are managed as a single fishery. The herring run lasts from April through June in Massachusetts.

“Every spring, we have a phenomenal wildlife migration right here in the Mystic River, but few people know about it and even fewer get to see it,” said Patrick Herron, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. “This project will change that. We hope to engage thousands of people in counting fish and acting as citizen scientists. We have found that counting is fun and addictive!”

Bringing this largely out of sight and unknown major wildlife migration to local residents is a priority for the Mystic River Watershed Association, who hopes the innovate project will improve knowledge and awareness of the Mystic River while promoting stewardship of local water resources. To accomplish this, the Association is partnering with local K-12 schools to provide hands-on science and STEM education surrounding the herring education project. The project connects students and others to the remarkable river herring migration and the science behind it using technology, data gathering and analysis, curriculum, and field visits.

The Mystic River Watershed Association is leading the project with support from project partners the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries. The project has been funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Drane Family Fund, The Boston Foundation, and ERM Group Foundation, Inc.

To learn more and to help document the herring migration see