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Ecologists Release Hundreds of Fish into the Bronx River

Andrew Seger, WFUV

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Ecologists are trying to restore one fish species' declining population in a New York City river. The Bronx River Alliance, the NYC Parks division and other groups are working together to bring alewife herring back to the Bronx.

A delivery truck made a two hour trek from Connecticut, concluding its journey at the Bronx River. It  delivered a 1,200 gallon tank filled with 400 alewife herring, a type of anadromous fish. That means it lives in the ocean, but makes a trip upriver to breed in freshwater. But the fish's normal migration path up the Bronx River is blocked by dams that have been around since the 1600s. Environmentalists like Merry Camhi have said dams have led to a decline in the alewife population over time. Camhi works with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and she said adding more of this species is a good step for the river's ecosystem.

"It is amazing that the Bronx River, the only freshwater river in NYC, has viable population of these animals, that the river is being restored. What is happening is exciting," Camhi said.

Steve Gephard is a biologist with Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. He said in addition to the ecological benefits, the fish restoration has a cultural meaning as well.

"These fish used to run up this river hundreds of years ago, so it is sort of a historic event," Gephard said. "It is sort of bringing back what used to be."

Gephard said the alewife will share the river with blueback herring, eels and a few other fish species.

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