Chasing the Continuous Fin

Latest update August 20, 2019 Started on July 23, 2019
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Looking further into the mysterious life of the American Eel, our expedition’s mission is to continue learning and studying the habits of the catadromous fish living and traveling among the Hudson River estuary waters.

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Preparation

The Science Exploration Education (S.E.E.) Initiative is an effort started by National Geographic to expand upon research being conducted in our ocean and connecting waterways. CURB has applied to be part of this initiative to receive a Sofar Trident Underwater Drone in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), to compliment and deepen our understanding and research of the migratory American eel. Help support our efforts and learn more about our eel study by following our expedition Chasing the Continuous Fin on the Nat Geo Open Explorer page!

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Metadata, is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data.


Throughout the CURB eel research project, we don't only count eels. It is important for us to collect additional metadata for the day. For our study, we collect water quality information such as dissolved oxygen (amount of soluble oxygen present in the water), turbidity (how cloudy the water is), and pH (how acidic/basic). These factors help us better understand if the water conditions are ideal for the migration of eels. We can also look back at the end of the season and track patterns between the health of the water and population densities of the migrating eel.

The eel research sheets that are used by CURB are provided in partnership with the NYS DEC.

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Community involvement in our project is vital for its sustainability. Learn more about how you can help us monitor the fascinating American Eel on the Hudson River!

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Smaller streams and rivers host a critical role in removing and properly cycling things such as nutrients and other pollutants from our everyday city life. Unfortunately, misunderstood water systems became buried beneath urban landscapes as cities developed and grew skyward. Although daylighting can take many forms, they all aim to restore areas surrounding hidden waterways such that they are both a positive ecological system and aesthetically pleasing place for wildlife and individuals to enjoy.


Here in Yonkers, our neighboring Saw Mill River was once one of the many hidden tributaries feeding into the main stem of the Hudson River. At CURB, it is important for us to understand and study how this tributary is impacting the larger water system and health of the overall watershed, especially after its daylighting. Part of the ecological restoration included passageways for anadromous fish to connect to higher waters.

We hope to be able to use a Trident Rover within the time frame of our study to further investigate the local and neighboring water bodies for eel population densities and their catadromous movement for future educational purposes. Community engagement and education will be an important part of our Trident use as we wish to provide the Yonkers public with tools needed to continue to care and protect the Hudson River watershed.

By seeing these live creatures and becoming community scientists we aim to create a community of environmental stewards.

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The results of our sampling is compared to other locations in order to get a snapshot of the American eel's migration patterns. The eels will spend most of their lives here in the Hudson River before eventually returning to the Sargasso Sea to give birth to a new generation of migrators.


This educational graph showcases the populations of glass eels that have been caught over the past 5 years at our site.

As we prepare for the 2020 season, we will continue to look at past data to track population health traveling the Hudson River Estuary.

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Expedition Background

Using community scientists, the Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB) has acted as a hub in research of the mysterious migration of the American Eel from the Sargasso Sea to the freshwater sections and tributaries of the Hudson River since 2013. Hundreds of voluntary participants don waders four afternoons a week in the early spring months and walk to the stationary fyke net in the tidal marsh behind the center. CURB conducts this research as part of the NYSDEC’s American Eel Migration Study as one of 14 project sites. This data provides a snapshot of population health and has profound roots in community education surrounding data interpretation and community action. For CURB, this study not only provides a governing agency with data, it provides the public an opportunity to be a critical part in a real scientific study that has impacts and connections to the local environment.

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