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Not all the little pogies make it out to sea

Dead pogies by the Museum of Science

The other day, Adam Castiglioni spotted a lot of dead fish floating in the Charles at the Museum of Science and wondered what's up with that.

DCR responded:

Fish kills are a natural and regular occurrence but you can report one to @MAEnviroPolice so that it can be checked on.

Most likely, it's the start of the annual pogie migration out to sea and the annual pogie die-off, often caused by reduced oxygen levels in the river caused, in part, by the sort of high temperatures we've been having of late (and algae blooms).

Charles River pogies - also known as menhaden - breed further upstream, then swim (or try to swim) back out into the ocean.

Overfishing had depleted pogie stocks in Massachusetts waters; then the state banned pogie fishing and their numbers rebounded.

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Comments

I know we talk about this every year, but how do the pogies get through the dam? If there was no dam, would the charles drain out too low? what would happen?

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The state sometimes opens them just to let the fish through. On the way back, they have this sort of fish ladder on one side of the new dam.

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Is the fish ladder working? I've never seen it with any water.

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What would happen if there was no dam? too low? too high?

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Sometimes too low, sometimes too high.

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If the dam was absent, there would be a lot of exposed mud flats twice a day. The dam was built to cover these, eliminating the offensive odor, while creating the water park. At the time, we were also disposing of a lot of sewage via the river, some of which would remain on the mud flats as the water ran out with the tide.

Heights (in feet above mean low tide)

17.34 Charles River Dam Height
15.16 Highest Recorded Tide
14.19 Highest Recorded Flood of Charles River
12.50 Flood Stage - Boston Harbor
9.44 Mean High Water Sea Level (MHW) [mean high tide]
7.19 Design Height of Charles River Basin
4.84 Mean Sea Water Level (MSL)
0.00 Mean Low Water Sea Level (MLW) [mean low tide]

Note that the river basin is designed to be below high tide. The river starts flooding with water above 8.5 to 9.0 feet and needs to be maintained above 6.0 to keep the wooden piles supporting the many buildings in the Back Bay wet.
The Charles is one of the few rivers that is lower than the high tide mark. By the way, the high tide line, if the dam were absent, is the foot of the Watertown Dam, which was a fish weir back in colonial times.

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Just call it Pogie Day

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My Dad used to fish for pogies off of the coast of say Duxbury to use them to fish for bluefish, which they never kept.

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Lobster men would buy a barrel of rotten pogies to use as bait for their traps. Fresh pogies didn't attract lobsters as much as "aged" ones!

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works for crabs too. lobster and crabs are the ocean cleaners.

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Adorable. Magoo.

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Fish make excellent garden fertilizer. These pogies can live on in the next bumper crop of tomatoes.

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I remember being taught that the Pilgrims learned to put fish into the same seed hole while planting corn or other crops to improve their crop yields.

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They were taught, too. The native peoples introduced them to both corn and planting fish with corn.

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Yes, someone taught them. That’s how learning works.

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You literally never learned anything by yourself? Like how to throw a frisbee or bake a cake?

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For instance, give a frisbee to someone who has never seen one and sure, they will figure out how to throw it. Conversely, no one can learn to bake a cake on their own. They would need some instruction, be it a book, audiovisual material, or a person, a person also being responsible for the first two modes.

Swirly just wanted to appear woke, so she had to turn the idea that a history book noted that the Pilgrims learned how to fertilize using fish into something bigger.

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Did you know that first continuous settlement of people other than native americans was african? In 1526, African slaves from a failed spanish colony in South Carolina revolted and fled, Their descendants still live there.

It may feel annoying to be corrected on what you feel is a minor point but our view of history was dramatically skewed by this kind of racism. Attention to detail, is really just being responsible.

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Can’t follow a comment thread.

Or someone has an unhealthy obsession with me.

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How dare I stick up for Swirly with facts? oh no.

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Pogie are delicious fried. Not sure about cooking up already dead ones though.

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