Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s second presentation of their 24th annual Winter Speaker Series, Searching for Smelt: Citizen Science & Maine’s Sea Run Fishes, will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, via Zoom. It will feature Claire Enterline and Danielle Frechette, research biologists with Maine’s Department of Marine Resources. This is the conservation organization’s second ever virtual meeting presentation.

According to a news release from the organization, just as serious cold bites Maine, and smelt camps finally hit the river ice, days are lengthening and it’s important to remember spring is just around the corner, and it’s not just mud season. Spring is when rainbow smelt swim up coastal streams to lay their eggs. These silvery little fish are important ecologically, economically, and culturally but have been in decline since the mid to late twentieth century. Scientists and resource managers need more complete and up-to-date coast-wide information on smelt to sustainably manage them now and into the future.

To help fill information gaps and reconnect citizens to this incredible natural resource, The Nature Conservancy, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Downeast Salmon Federation, and Maine Department of Marine Resources are collaborating on a project to train and motivate interested volunteers across the state to pull on their muck boots and help determine where rainbow smelt are spawning each year. Following up on surveys performed at streams state-wide in the 1950s, 70s, and 2000s, this current data collection effort is part of research institute’s new Ecosystem Investigation Network, an online platform connecting and supporting a community of partner organizations and citizen scientists of all ages, investigating climate change impacts on species, communities, and habitats in the Gulf of Maine watershed.

Enterline and Frechette will talk about these fascinating fish and how to join this citizen science network.

Claire Enterline Contributed photo

Enterline is research coordinator at Department of Marine Resources’ Maine Coastal Program. She provides technical leadership regarding sampling methodology, data analysis, and development of scientific papers, and also works with coastal managers at the local, state, regional, and federal level to translate scientific analysis into best management practices and management plans. From 2007 to 2015, her research focused on the abundance, population dynamics, habitat, and behavior of rainbow smelt. As part of this work, she was the lead author on the Regional Conservation Plan for Rainbow Smelt, and carried out the first smelt population assessments in Maine since the 1970s.

Danielle Frechette Contributed photo

Frechette is a marine resource scientist for the Department of Marine Resources’ Division of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat. She serves as the department’s liaison for a new citizen science effort tracking presence and absence of sea run fish in Maine’s coastal streams and rivers to inform restoration and management actions. She also is lead biologist for the Salmon for Maine’s Rivers program, a new endeavor designed to help jumpstart recovery for federally endangered Atlantic salmon in Maine. She is a salmon biologist by training and worked on endangered Coho salmon and threatened steelhead in California and Atlantic salmon in Quebec before landing at at the department in 2019.

To attend the Feb. 10 event, visit fomb.org to find the access link.

Friends normally hosts their Winter Speaker Series October through May, the second Wednesday of each month. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the current series is abridged and virtual, running January to May. Friends’ March 10 presentation, “The Sonic Sea — Voices of the Deep” will feature an award-winning film on this issue followed by a presentation from Chris Clark, Ph.D, senior scientist and researcher in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University.

To register and receive the Zoom access link, visit fomb.org a week or so prior to the presentation.

Speaker Series presentations are free and open to the public. Visit fomb.org to see speaker biographies, full event schedules, video recordings of past presentations, become a member, and learn more about how you can help protect Merrymeeting Bay.

For more information, call 207-666-3372 or email [email protected].

filed under: