The Return of the Alewives!

Friday, May 17, 2013 by Katie Flavin


Alewives, also known as river herring, are a very important part of the Gulf of Maine watershed.  These fish tie the ocean, river, and lake habitats together and supply numerous species with food.


In the spring, usually May and June, the adult alewives leave their ocean habitat and migrate in huge schools in seek of freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds to spawn. After spawning, the adults return back to the Gulf of Maine and many of them will repeat the process again the following spring. The juveniles start out their lives in freshwater.  Starting in mid July through October, the juvenile alewives migrate downstream and back into the Gulf of Maine, where they will grow to adults, and eventually make the same journey their parents did.


If you want to see the amazing migration of the alewives, you can visit the Damariscotta Mills fish ladder. Today’s report says, “May 17, 2013:  More large schools of alewives came in last night and the fish ladder is full of fish--and there are thousands of alewives in the water between the fish house and the fish ladder. In addition, the pools are loaded all the way up to the top and thousands of fish are passing into the lake to spawn. A great time to visit!”

Go to: to learn more.

See an article in the Portland Press Herald:

comments powered by Disqus