The long attempts to bring Atlantic salmon back to the big rivers of southern New England, the Merrimack and Connecticut rivers, has pretty much failed. They just couldn’t overcome all those dams preventing the fish from moving between sea and spawning ground, plus changes in ocean temperature and salinity and other changes including the introduction of river bass, which fishermen love but which are voracious salmon-fry predators.
But Al-Jazeera America reports that five spawning fish have been found in the Connecticut River watershed.
In November, fisheries biologists found something in the waters of the Farmington River — which pours into the Connecticut River — that historians say had not appeared since the Revolutionary War: three salmon nests full of eggs.
In the fall of 2015, biologists found five adult Atlantic salmon swimming past the Rainbow Dam on the lower Farmington River. On a hunch, they searched likely upstream spawning habitat and there found the three nests full of eggs. In the spring of 2016 they will hatch the first wild salmon into that river in two centuries. (In 1991 a few salmon spawned for the first time in centuries in Connecticut’s nearby Salmon River.)
“It’s a great story,” said John Burrows, of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a conservation group, “whether it’s the beginning of something great or the beginning of the end.”
I suspect the latter, but maybe not.
The full story is here – it’s good, worth a read.