Catch, count, identify, release: that was the refrain last weekend on a rocky Hudson River beach in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Beneath the hulking shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, and despite the rumble and shake of endless trains clattering above, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Steve Stanne expertly led a group of volunteers and curious bystanders in the art of the Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Count.
Hidden Below the Surface
Now in its fourth year, the fish count is a one-day event each summer during which naturalists at multiple sites along the Hudson catch fish to show visitors the variety of fascinating creatures usually hidden below the river’s surface. This year 17 sites, from Saratoga to Brooklyn, were sampled.
More than 200 fish species call the Hudson estuary and its watershed home, and over the past three years, volunteers have recorded at least 37 of them during the count.
This year at the Brooklyn site, volunteers took the seine nets out a handful of times. They counted, identified, and documented everything pulled in, and then returned all the creatures to the river. At the end of the event, the tally included hundreds of Atlantic silversides, plus striped bass, bluefish, porgy, a lady crab and a blue crab, comb jellies, and even a lined seahorse!
According to Stanne, this year’s fish count netted a total of 33 species across all sites, “the highest number recorded on any of the four Great Hudson River Estuary Fish Counts to date.” Two of the species found in Brooklyn—the porgy and the lined seahorse—were new to the count list completely.