Skip to content. Skip to navigation

Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Hudson River Eel Project

Hudson River Eel Project

THE HUDSON RIVER EEL PROJECT: FISH CONSERVATION THROUGH CITIZEN SCIENCE Species face conservation challenges not just in “far-away” places but in our local waterways and backyards as well. The American eel is an important migratory fish along the entire East and Gulf Coasts, yet recent drastic declines are not fully understood. The Eel Project, initiated by the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program, involves over two hundred diverse community members in shared goals and methodologies to study juvenile eels during their spring migrations from sea to stream. March through May, fyke nets staked in eight tidal stream mouths are checked daily by teams of trained citizen-scientists including high school students, college interns, nature center staff, and local volunteers. In 2010, eleven thousand year-old “glass eels”, newly arrived from the Atlantic, are counted, weighed and released, while environmental conditions and herring sightings are also recorded. Participants are answering critical conservation questions about eel habitat and migration patterns along the tidal estuary from urban streams to quiet creeks. Citizen-scientists are diverse in age, race, economic status, gender and academic achievement. The project’s hands-on relevance benefits both gifted and underperforming students, and it involves participants with conservation professionals and real research opportunities. Field programs are enhanced with classroom lessons, community presentations, and a strong interest by fisheries managers, who are planning further conservation action and habitat restoration as a result of this project.

Parent Project

Cornell University Water Resource Institute



Topic (e.g., water quality, astronomy) - fish, conservation, urban ecology, migratory species

Audience (e.g., K-12, church groups, agencies) - K-12, college, interns, citizens, watershed groups

Location (e.g., Cayuga Lake Basin, North America) - Hudson River Watershed

Goals (e.g., restoration, education, research) - education, monitoring, restoration

Other - project based on Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission protocols



NYS Water Resource Institute at Cornell University Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program


Chris Bowser,Science Education Specialist email Chris


Steve Stanne,Interpretive Specialist Amy Krisch, Coordinator, Fresno Bird Count email Amy 845-256-3077

Citizen science, volunteer monitoring, participatory action research... this site supports organizers of all initiatives where public participants are involved in scientific research.

More about this...