The disconnect of East and West was no longer so vast with the driving of the Golden Spike on the United States Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869. Seth Green, an entrepreneur who is often credited with the invention of the fish reel, saw a golden opportunity to expand his empire with the presence of a cross continent railroad, but are we still paying the cost today of his ambitious ways?
|American shad (Photo: Cooney)|
At the time, very little caution or care was given to introducing non-native species of fish to new water bodies, and to be honest, many government agencies are still in the business today (European brown trout are a prime example). Seth Green wanted to expand his fish empire and he concocted a plan to introduce American shad, native to the Atlantic Ocean, to the Pacific Ocean.
Mr. Green outfitted a train car with milk jugs, a popular method of small fish transportation that would continue in popularity for another 100 years, and hooked up with the Transcontinental Railroad in 1871. A total of 10,000 American shad were dumped into the Sacramento River in Northern California, the fish survived, and then successfully spread along the entire Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada.
|Salmon and shad in the counting window|
These people are held to the task every year of monitoring the populations of fish that return from the sea to spawn in the Columbia River. The effort started out with counting just salmon, but starting in 1946, American shad were included in that count, with a total of 20,279. Numbers steadily rose, until a peak was hit in 2004, when more than 5 million shad passed by the window, with a 15 year average of more than 3 million.
|Shad anglers at Bonneville Dam.|
|The Columbia River Gorge, shad angling boats, |
and BonnevilleDam. (Photo: Cooney)
●What impact does the increasing number of American shad in the Columbia River have on struggling salmon populations?
●Why are native populations of American shad continuing to struggle on the East Coast of the United States, while those out West that are introduced are thriving?
●What are the long term impacts of non-native fish introductions?
Bonneville fish counting window live stream