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Citizen complaint of the day: Schools of dead fish washing up on the rocks along Boston Harbor

Dead fish near the Eliot School

A concerned citizen filed a 311 report yesterday about all the dead fish on the rocks by the North Washington Street bridge and the Eliot School in the North End.

The appropriately named Kilgore Trout suggests they're the remains of the spring herring run up the Mystic River, although given the location of the fish, near the Charles River dam, we're going to suggest they were part of the spring herring run up the Charles River, which itself is large enough to bring in seafood connoisseurs from time to time.

Further proof of them being part of the Charles River run: Photos of them in the Charles River Dam locks.

Regardless of river, the two types of herring we get - one called Alewife, as in the brook some head towards - are anadromous, which means they live most of their lives in the ocean, but head to fresh-water rivers to breed..

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Comments

when the Cherles River locks open up they are swimming in a death zone.

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Ever see filthy fish tanks in supermarkets with the skinny crabs and fish begging to just die quickly in a red plastic bag? Truth be told.

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If we spend on actual environmental protection, there won't be anything left for the city chiefs.

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You seem to assume this was due to an environmental problem. You also seem to assume the City has some responsibility and that funds used for operating expenses (i.e. "chiefs") should be used for capital projects to clean up the river or new programs to further regulate water pollution. There are a number of possible causes for the die-off, often its due to the migrating fish entering an area with low dissolved oxygen. That can happen due to high nutrient loads that cause algae blooms or high bacteria loads, sucking up the oxygen. Lots of rain may have something to do with it. Also, getting past the dam is tricky, when the Charles was an estuary, the herring could transition back to salt water more gradually, by going through the locks it may be more of a shock, idk. The Charles is controlled by the State, not the City. Most of the nutrient loading comes from above the Watertown dam. And Boston Water and Sewer (who might arguably have some control) is not a City agency. But you keep taking your shots, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

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Is specifically nonsensical hot takes.

You can disregard.

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From Cornell Vet School

"Alewife populations have declined significantly, due in part to loss of habitat, decreased access to spawning areas as a result of dam construction and other impediments to migration, degradation of native habitats, fishing, and increased predation. "

Just interesting to note the stresses on fish. And, alewives are invasive in landlocked Great Lakes.

K

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These fish almost certainly died from lack of oxygen. Having passed over the locks just after they had opened the bay side, it was extremely evident that all of these fish died after having been confined within a single lock. Easily thousands of dead with with tens of thousands swimming among them.

What people are reporting is just the aftermath of the tides/current dispersing their bodies.

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The city has no jurisdiction over the water in the harbor.

Racist and sexist haters aren't bothered by facts.

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I've only seen the spring herring run once on the Charles.

You'd think there were schools of sea monsters making their way upstream. The water appeared to be undulating, every now an then you'd see the large dorsal fins on their backs sticking out of the water and because they swim so close together they looked bigger than they really were.

I agree with @MrZip they probably just ran out of oxygen not poisoned by pollution. The schools are amazingly huge.

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...go to the West Fens and look at the Muddy River. There's a bridge over it, near the MFA. It's amazing.

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I had no idea they went up the Muddy River. Thanks @Ibb

For me the Muddy River was famous for the first UFO sighting in colonial New England and its large snapping turtles. The herring run is probably why the snapping turtles get so large.

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That little park is a gem, too. A real people's park.

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