Love Nature? Help Us Count River Herring on the Pennamaquan River.

Help us track river herring populations in the Pennamaquan River and be part of an environmental success story. Watch the video below and record what you see. Scroll down for the latest data.

Have questions about the online counting? Check out the FAQs here.

Read instructions for more detail.

NOTE: Some videos may be longer or shorter than 60 seconds.  If you are up for counting a long video, please do; we recommend pausing every 60 seconds and writing down a subtotal.  And then start from zero for each segment and add up all the subtotals.  If you don’t have the time to count a longer video, please feel free just to hit refresh and cue up another video without entering any data.


Counting fish is simple! 

But there are a few things we'd like you to keep in mind...


1. Only count fish that swim all the way upstreamHerring Count Instructions Step 1

Fish migrating upstream will be swimming from right to left in the video. Only count the ones that swim entirely out of view (across the left edge of the video), including any you might see at the start of the video. Do not count fish that only swim part of the way across before the video ends.





2. Ignore any fish that swim back downstreamHerring Count Instructions Step 2

After spawning, the fish will start swimming back downstream towards the ocean (from left to right in the video). Simply ignore these fish, and do not subtract them from you count.






3. If you don't see any fish, submit a count of zeroHerring Count Instructions Step 3

Sometimes the camera will record a video even when there are no fish. Sticks, leaves, and other aquatic species can trigger the camera to start recording. If this happens, you should still submit a count of zero. That's useful data!






4. If there are too many fish, then pause, slow down, or go full screenHerring Count Instructions Step 4

Sometimes there are too many fish to count. But you can pause, slow down, or open the video in full screen using the controls along the bottom. If there are still too many to count, then make your best guess and just leave a comment saying that you are unsure.





5. 2023 only: some videos are longer than 60 seconds, up to 15 minutes long.

If you are up for counting a long video, please do; we recommend pausing every 60 seconds and writing down a subtotal. And then count from zero for each additional minute and add up all the subtotals. If you don't have the time to count a longer video, please feel free just to hit refresh and cue up another video with entering any date; the next video will likely be less than 60 seconds.

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All of the information on this page is provided courtesy of the Mystic River Watershed Association.

The Pennamaquan River - An Environmental Success Story

The Pennamaquan River in Pembroke, Maine, is unique in terms of Maine river herring runs. The Pennamaquan River provides habitat for runs of alewife and blueback herring, collectively known as river herring. For several decades the Pennamaquan River provided large quantities of river herring for commercial harvest and served as a local source of fish for personal use. Over the years passage on the Pennamaquan River deteriorated. Aging fishways, inability to monitor run size, and obstructed passages led to a decline in river herring populations. Through the hard work and cooperation of state and local governments, Maine Sea Grant, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Downeast Salmon Federation, and NGO partners to restore passage, river herring populations are increasing significantly.

The Pennamaquan River is now returning fish in ever increasing numbers and may once again be able to support commercial catches and increases in recreational fishing opportunities. Returns to the river have increased to the point where conventional electronic counting methods can no longer be used due to the numbers of fish returning to the sea after they have spawned in the lake and riverine habitats available in the watershed. Video count systems that provide passage for fish moving upstream and downstream is now the best option to continue to monitor the increase in populations size.  Please join us in counting the 2023 river herring run on the Pennamaquan River as we monitor the success of the restoration project and return of river herring to this important river in Maine.  

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