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.