We've wrapped up the counting after today's (Day 60) zero results. 2012 has been best year since we started counting following the MA protocol in 2006. 8892 fish are reported for the 58 days that the run lasted, including 10 days in early April when we stopped official counting after several days of zero counts. On April 11th, 2012, the fish returned in earnest, and we resumed the counts on April 12th (Day 23), with several hundred fish observed each day for the next 2-1/2 weeks.
As shown in the Year to Year Comparison, the 2012 count was 7300 fish higher than the average for the previous six years of counting, and nearly 460% higher than the average of the last six years.
8892 fish counted over 90 minutes each day for the 58 days we kept records is equivalent to more than 71,000 fish that came through Mill Pond's ladder. This estimate is conservative as it assumes the fish only moved during the 12 hours (7 am to 7 pm) for which we monitored and counted fish, and on all the peak days we observed fish in every hour of the day.
We had more than 50 counters participating in the 2012 count. Some of the counters provided dozens of counts over the eight week period. We had several rookie counters this year who also were able to participate in some of the exceptionally high volume counts during the peak days in mid-April, as well as several counters who have participated every year since formal counting began in 2006.
Thanks to the effective participation of so many Barnstable residents, we have a solid database of information for this exceptional year. We introduced a new scheduling tool to allow counters to observe available openings online and volunteer to count at open times. In accordance with the state protocol, we introduced the monitoring of local water temperature at each count. This new data will ideally help us better assess in future when to expect herring running during the migration.
We started tracking saltwater temperatures to help us better project the start of the migration.
We set up this new website as a vehicle to communicate to the counters and any other interested parties, to share our findings and observations.
The following are some last thoughts from one of our 2012 rookie counters, on her last day of counting, which was a zero count:
"I've been so glad I volunteered to help out this year. It's been a wonderful experience, seeing the fish, helping science in my small way, visiting with all the children and others that have come to view the herring. It's also been inspiring in a way, to stand as silent witness to the surge of life renewing itself as it has for eons and to contemplate our place in history as I stand in such a historically significant place.
Yeah, it's all good!"