Monday, May 23, 2016

Alewives and Bluebacks

Thursday was a beauty of a day for painting at the Jewel Mill along the Mill River in Rowley.  In this river, where many of us were painting along, there a continuous churning of small fish leaping over small rocks in this rushing stream.

The anadromous Alewives or maybe they were Bluebacks are members of the Herring family and were making the springtime run up river to spawn.  These small fish are one important source for bait fish used in the sport fishing of Bluefish and Strippers and for baiting lobster traps.  In the 1960's their populations were in decline due to industrial dams which block access to spawning sites up river and water pollution.  Today with proper river management and fish ladder constructions, these fish which are important to the health of a bio-ecological cycle, are making a comeback.

As I continued walking along the path to the pond, I smelled something putrid.  It wasn't the foul smelling Skunk Cabbage well past spring emergent but dead fish (Alewives) decaying on the path; each with a hole punctured in its abdomen.  I'm guessing...Great Blue Herons had the opportunity to snack on the migrating fish.  Native Americans too awaited each spring for their return to be caught in their fishing weirs set up in streams.

Below is a pic of my plein air painting(8"X20") of the Mill River path: on left side the babbling stream, the other side a quiet pond with wild Irises.