The Herring Are Running in the Charles River

To see an interactive map with pictures of locations mentioned in this post click this. 2008 Herring run map

If you go down to the south coast of Cambridge these says you can see this year's herring run in progress. It looks the best run in several years. There aren't nearly as many fish as I used to see in the 1990's, and orders of magnitude below numbers seen before the river was dammed and polluted.

If you go to the dam just upstream from Watertown Square, you can see them trying to jump the dam and swimming up the fish ladder. It is a pretty cool sight. There are hundreds of fish below the dam trying to get over. You can see them trying to swim up Laundry Brook from the footbridge on the south bank. Also present are dozens of herring gulls and cormorants taking advantage of the traffic jam.

All this life swimming around in our river is encouraging. The Charles is on the mend, but there is a long way to go, and it can always swing the other way. Every time it rains, all that runoff goes right into the river. All the oil, lawn chemicals, street trash, detergents, and car care chemicals that we use outside goes right in. After a good rain, the water where I took that picture of herring in the canal is all cloudy and an ugly gray color. Way upstream, farm run off adds to the pollution load. Closer to home we have the newly renovated Teddy Ebersol ball field on the Esplanade. When the turf there was dug up, a massive amount of manure was put in. It smelled like a pig farm for months. There is no way that a lot of that is not getting into the river. I've heard that some nasty herbicides have been used there too. Yum! This is what is planned for the fields at Magazine Beach. Without any environmental review too. Then there is all the heat dumped in at the Kendall power plant...Come down in August and the water is pea green and stinky from algae blooms.

Yesterday, I saw a good sized snapping turtle and nesting sunfish at North Point Park. The carp are in their frisky phase. There are black-crowned night herons along the banks. Canada geese are leading their young all over the river. All these wild things are hanging on, but we need to pay attention to the condition of their home and help our government keep the trend going in the right direction.