As shadbush blooms, their namesake shad (and their close relatives, the river herring) are running!

These anadromous (from ana “up, upward” and dromos “a running”) fish run up the river to spawn. They are born in freshwater and migrate to the ocean when they are 6-8 months old. After three to five years of maturing, the river herring return to their natal stream to lay tens of thousands of eggs themselves. They then head back to the ocean to continue the cycle.

The herring run is often best viewed from fish ladders (a series of step-like pools to help the fish around an obstacle in the river) where the herring (and their predators!) are concentrated for a close look. 

John Hay describes this fish ladder viewing  in The Run: A Chronicle of Migration and Survival in the Waters of Cape Cod, “A continuous long line of fish kept swimming through to the bottom of the ladder, where they would vainly skip and twist and strain through the water’s force. Then they swung back in a semi-circular arc across the basin and re-formed at its edge. There was a wide shiver on the water. They wheeled as in a dance, or like the planets in pursuit of light, where they ran up again into the flood. It happened time after time, in this futile but concurrent motion, a beauty to watch–its tension, effort, and relief were exactly coordinated with the water. These fish were the water.” 

Herring Run Resources:

-Picture book When the Shadbush Blooms by Carla Messinger and Susan Katz

-Guide to viewing the herring run in Maine

-Guide to viewing the herring run in Massachusetts

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