Glass eel. Photo: Joe Reynolds
The Eel Project is coordinated by the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program and the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, in partnership with NEIWPCC and the Water Resources Institute at Cornell University. During this project, teams of scientists, students, and volunteers collect glass eels using specialized nets and traps on Hudson River tributaries each spring. The juvenile fish are counted, weighed, and released, and other environmental data is recorded. At the end of each season the data is compiled and sent along to decision-makers.
The Hudson River Eel Project began in 2008 with two sites, the Fall Kill in Poughkeepsie, and Furnace Brook in Cortlandt. By 2018 the project expanded to 14 sites, ranging from New York City to Troy, with over 750 volunteers lending a hand (and learning a thing or two). Over its lifetime, the Eel Project has caught, counted, and released over one million glass eels, helping these animals access better habitat.
Over the course of the project we have collected interesting data. In 2018, volunteers caught an average of 183 glass eels per day. This is a significant increase from the first few years of the project during which the average catch per day was around 20-30 eels. One of the key educational aspects of this project is bringing the data back to classrooms to have students interpret and learn from it.