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Good, or bad reintroduction?

2011/4/26 7:20
From Harrisburg
Posts: 0
Offline ... ls-pack-plenty-of-mussels

July 20, 2011

Eels pack plenty of mussels
Scientists reintroduce thousands to clean river
By Joseph Deinlein
The Daily Item The Daily Item Wed Jul 20, 2011, 06:01 AM EDT

LEWISBURG — It used to be, the American freshwater eels that were found swimming in the Susquehanna River and its tributaries would simply wiggle their way up the waterway from where they spawned in the Atlantic Ocean near Bermuda.

These days, thanks to manmade obstacles blocking the way, such as the Adam T. Bower Memorial Dam at Sunbury, the fish get a ride from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tuesday, 4,790 eels were dumped into Little Buffalo Creek at the parking lot of the Dale’s Trail near the Dale-Engle-Walker House as part of a project aimed at cleaning the watershed by strengthening the native freshwater mussel population. Eels also were taken to Pine Creek near Wellsboro.

The once-plentiful eels carry the larvae of freshwater mussels — eliptiocomplanata, which are the primary organisms to filter water and maintain water quality in the river, said Steve Minkkinen, project leader for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Maryland Fishery Resource Office.

The project is driven by improvements to Sunbury’s Riverfront along the Susquehanna River. Sunbury’s project included bank stabilization, a mile long public walking trail, construction of an amphitheater and a marina along with new trees and shrubs and other changes to benefit and protect the city’s waterfront area. As part of the project permit process, consulting engineers and scientists from Buchart Horn proposed the eel stocking to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This is the second year of a three-year program to reintroduce the eels to the ecosystem. A check of eels released last year found they were infested with the mussel larvae, which is a good thing, Minkkinen said. Minkkinen and fish biologist Ian Park released a few thousand in June and some last week.

In total, there have been about 32,000 eels dumped in local creeks. The goal is to have 60,000 released by the end of the third year.

They and the mussel population will be watched over the next 10 years, ensuring the gap created by the dam construction is being mended.

The eels released Tuesday were collected at the base of the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna in Maryland, Minkkinen said. Though there is a mechanism there designed to help certain fish such as shad scale the dam, the eels aren’t strong enough to battle the current.

“The dams have completely blocked the migration,” he said. “Because their primary host hasn’t been here, the mussel population has declined.”

There still are mussels found in the waterways.

However, they’re large and old.

The hope is the young eels — those released Tuesday were about 2 years old — will help spur the juvenile population.

The black-colored eels looked almost like large tadpoles but with powerful tails. A few almost managed to flick themselves out of the orange-colored bucket they were in temporarily before meeting their new home.

Though only about 4 inches long Tuesday, they can grow to be up to 3 feet or larger.

They will stay in the watershed, eating small insects and crayfish, for between 10 and 20 years before following the river back out to sea.

There, they will head to the Sargasso Sea, an area in the middle of the Atlantic where several currents meet, depositing there whatever they carry. The area is known for its large deposit of seaweed.

Owen Anderson, a board member of the Buffalo Creek Water Shed Alliance — a group helping with the project — said the hope is the eels will spread throughout the watershed.

“This another step in cleaning up the stream,” he said.

Posted on: 2011/7/21 0:03

Re: Good, or bad reintroduction?

2009/9/9 13:21
From North Central PA
Posts: 8
This is a good thing!

Posted on: 2011/7/21 6:57
_________________ It's NOT the fly... you suck!

Re: Good, or bad reintroduction?

2009/2/11 13:14
From Lehigh Valley
Posts: 0
Lmao, why not get rid of the darn Dam. Nature always takes care of itself it's always man that messes things up..just look at the lower 48 Pacific Salmon, the damn Carp mess threatening the Great Lakes, Zebra Mussels , Didymo the list goes on.
What major reason of stupidity does this dam serve....,saw that State is also abandoning the Susquehanna Shad reintroduction...get rid of the dams the fish will come back.I wonder what will happen to these mussels and the eels with this Marcellus baloney.Time will only tell.
Tight Wraps & Tight Lines
Rick Wallace

Posted on: 2011/7/21 17:36

Re: Good, or bad reintroduction?

2011/5/6 17:55
From Harrisburg
Posts: 18
I can also agree that the dams should be removed, especially those that serve no public purpose (Dock Street Dam was a sewage dam when it was built). However, it is good to see that these eels really do help the native mussels. Those bivalves have been severely outnumbered by asian imports, and this can only help bring some level of equilibrium to the river.

Posted on: 2011/7/21 17:49

Re: Good, or bad reintroduction?
2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
Posts: 439
Restoring elvers (baby eels) in the upper Susky watershed is a good idea. Whether these fish will find their way out to sea - they'd have to get over the dams either by fish ladder or some improvisation I'd think - remains to be seen.

The dams blocking the lower Susky are not going to be removed any time soon. The Dock St dam could be, but the others that span the length and block fish passage - Holtwood, Safe Harbor, Conowingo, etc - are massive hydroelectric projects and aren't going anywhere.

Posted on: 2011/7/21 18:19

Re: Good, or bad reintroduction?

2006/9/10 16:07
From Pine Grove
Posts: 36
I'm glad they're reintroducing them. Hell, I live near the Swatara Creek and the name Swatara (or a close approximation) literally means "the place where we eat eels" in the Lenape language. The arteries and veins of the land that control the ebb and flow of life and connect mountain to sea have been severed for long enough. It's not a be all/end all solution, but it's a start.

On a side note, a very interesting fact about eels that I learned a few years ago still blows me away. American eels and European eels both migrate to the same stretch of the Sargasso Sea to spawn, then the offspring of the Americans go to North America and the European offspring swim to Europe. That's pretty freakin' far out, imho.


Posted on: 2011/7/22 13:44

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