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An ancient and impressive wildlife migration is occurring in our midst. The spring spawning run of American shad is a timeless ritual, one that has taken place in the Delaware River for the past 10,000 years. On May 21st, World Fish Migration Day, the National Park Service will celebrate this rite of spring with a shad viewing float trip on the Upper Delaware River between 10:00am and 2:00pm. Join park biologists for an 8-10 mile river paddle to observe migrating American shad, learn about their natural history and ecology, and simply enjoy the outdoors.
Historically, the Delaware River had the largest American shad runs of any river on the Atlantic Coast and migrating fish likely numbered in the tens of millions. While much reduced in numbers today, American shad runs on the Delaware are still significant, remain an important food source for numerous species of wildlife, including bald eagles, and underscore the importance of our ocean connection.
Determined fish are now travelling 330 miles or more upriver from the ocean, on this last major river on the Atlantic Coast that is undammed the entire length of its main stem. Some of these 3 to 6 year-old fish have travelled over 12,000-miles at sea, including annual forays to the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy. They are now nearing their goal, long-remembered spawning waters in their natal Delaware River, in what will be the final journey for some.
Once the eggs have hatched, the Delaware River will provide sustaining nursery habitat for millions of young-of-year shad during the first 5 months of their lives. In the fall, this next generation of American shad will return to the sea. This age-old cycle of biomass, energy, and nutrient exchange with the ocean benefits both systems and represents an important riverine-marine ecological link that is now missing from so many of the nation's other rivers.
The float trip is open to the public, but for a limited number of people with their own boats (canoes or kayaks) and transportation. Reservations must be made ahead of time by contacting Don Hamilton, Chief of Natural Resources, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (570) 729-7842 ext. 3302. To learn more about World Fish Migration Day please visit http://www.worldfishmigrationday.com/.https://www.nps.gov/upde, or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/updeNPS. e