Warmer weather brings more river herring to Woonasquatucket River


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As we go later into spring, the rivers running through Providence will start to fill up with river herring. 

“It’s a really important mid-size fish species that we need to reproduce to feed all the other species both in the fresh water system but also the ocean,” says Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council Executive Director Alicia Lehrer. 

To help the river herring population grow, a fish ladder was put in the river behind the Rising Sun Mills Apartments in Providence. 

“Up until 2008, the fish had to stop right here at Rising Sun, we didn’t have any passage here,” Lehrer explains.

The fish ladder is like a passport, allowing them to travel further upstream. There is even a ruler to see how the herring measure up.

Peak travel season is just starting, so look for schools of fish to fill up these spots soon.

Lehrer say there will also be other animals around. “We’ve had river otter, we’ve had muskrats, it’s unbelievable how much life a river brings to this whole urban system.”

River herring spend most of their lives in the ocean, but Lehrer points out that through some incredible internal process and their sense of smell, they are able to find their way back home.

“They find the river where they were born, and then they create their nests and they spawn in this river.”

There are several other fish passages on the river that have helped restore the herring.

However, the effort to put those in is costly, so the council has volunteer fish-counters to make sure the restoration is actually working.

If you would like to be come a volunteer, you can click here.

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