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Mystic River Herring Education Project

Main Project Information
Presented By Mystic River Watershed Association
Goal Connect students to the remarkable river herring migration.
Task Count herring passing through the fish ladder
Where Online only

Simply put, we have found that people love herring. We wanted to bring this largely out of sight and unnoticed right of spring to a larger audience and thus the Mystic River Herring Education Project was born.

This project connects people, including local students, to the remarkable river herring migration and the science behind it using technology, data gathering and visualization, and school engagement. Building off of the success of the Herring Monitoring Program, in which eighty trained citizen scientists document the herring migration at the Upper Mystic Lake Dam each spring, the Mystic River Watershed Association uses technology to broadcast and learn more about the herring migration.

The first step was to install an underwater video camera at the DCR Upper Mystic Lake dam in Medford, which required the design, building and implementation of the structure to house the camera and funnel the fish within range of the camera.
The camera is triggered by motion and set to record for no more than 60 seconds at a time. Short videos are then sent to the cloud and rerouted to this website, where users can play the role of citizen scientist and record how many individual herring they see in each video.

Additionally, Mystic River Watershed Association staff is partnering with K-12 schools to provide hands-on science surrounding this major wildlife migration. During the first year of the project the Mystic River Watershed Association is working with classrooms in Medford, Melrose, East Boston, Somerville, Wakefield and Winchester. Teachers will develop related curriculum to be shared via the teacher resource page - downloadable for teachers anywhere to implement. Students will perform herring counts, develop critical thinking skills, improve environmental literacy, and participate in stewardship opportunities through both classroom engagement and field trips to the fish ladder.

Project Timing From April through June of each year, an underwater camera system records short videos (10 - 60 seconds long) of river herring at the Upper Mystic Lake dam between Medford and Winchester, MA. Videos can be counted anytime during the year and this data will help bring us one step closer to an accurate estimate of the total herring run.
Social Media
Ideal Age Group Elementary school (6 - 10 years), Middle school (11 - 13 years), High school (14 - 17 years), College, Graduate students, Adults, Families, Seniors
Ideal Frequency Other
Average Time Less than an hour
Spend the Time indoors
Type of Activity Exclusively online
Class Materials
Media Mentions
and Publications
Tags advocacy, anadromous, aquatic, black crowned night heron, citizen science, community service, connect, cormorants, data, eagles, ecology, ecosystems, education, eels, environment, fish, fish ladder, habitat, herring, horn pond, malden river, mammals, mill brook, mill creek, monitoring, mystic, mystic lake, nature, osprey, policy, reptiles, river, science, stem, volunteer, water quality, watershed, wildlife, zooplankton
Project Updated 01/11/2019