New camera to count herring at Lagoon Pond

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A new underwater camera was installed at the Lagoon Pond herring run Tuesday to help gather data on herring populations.

The fish counter camera sits inside a metal box shaped like a Tetris piece, which was fitted on the end of the herring run. The box was crafted by construction foreman and diadromous fish leader Ed Clark. Installation was a team effort between Clark, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) environmental technician Andrew Jacobs, DMF Diadromous Fisheries project leader Brad Chase, Oak Bluffs shellfish constable Chuck Fisher, Tisbury shellfish constable Danielle Ewart, and Oak Bluffs water superintendent Michael Silvia.

“This is a really valuable run to the Island,” Ewart said. “Back in the early 2000s, it was closed, so we want to see how viable it is and how many fish are actually running through here.”

The camera is connected to an onsite computer that monitors the fish swimming by. Ewart said for now the camera is being tested, but the next step is to protect the conduit cable connecting the camera to the computer.

Constructed in 1991, the fishway connects Lagoon Pond, the 534-acre tidal pond, to the 13-acre freshwater Upper Lagoon Pond as a passage for local herring populations. Tens of thousands of herring are estimated to pass through the fishway each spring to spawn. Herring are an important part of the ecosystem. Zooplankton are eaten by herring, which are in turn eaten by larger fish like bluefish and striped bass, cornerstones of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby each fall.