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This spring Island Readers & Writers (IRW) and thousands of alewives went on a journey of discovery and adventure as these small fishes “ran” from Machias and Cobscook Bays to various lakes and streams in Washington County.

We brought together six elementary schools, Cobscook Community Learning Center, Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Downeast Fisheries Partnership, Downeast Institute, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Downeast Salmon Federation, East Machias Aquatic Research Center, Lubec Memorial Library, Peabody Memorial Library, Maine Sea Grant, Porter Memorial Library, and Schoodic Institute to create a collective of programs, for Mainers of all ages, that explored and highlighted the important cultural, economic, social, and environmental impact of the alewife.

This exciting region-wide program was called Alewives: Small FishBig Impact, and events were held throughout April and May in towns across Washington County.

Calendar of Events

2016-05-13 00.57.41April 16: Smelt Fry at Downeast Salmon Federation, 187 Main St, Columbia Falls, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.More info available at: https://mainesalmonrivers.org/events/smelt-fry/

April 16: “Build a Fish School” art project and Alewife Story Hour, 11a.m. – noon, Porter Memorial Library, Machias.

April 16: Alewife Story Hour and art project, 11 a.m. – noon, Peabody Memorial Library, Jonesport.

late April/early May: Ongoing “Build a Fish School” art project at Lubec Memorial Library

April 28: 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Open Meeting on Alewives: Compare notes on the status of the alewife and other fisheries in Downeast Maine. Coordinated by Downeast Fisheries Partnership (DFP).  Event located at Eastport Port Authority, 141 Water Street, Eastport. For more info, contact Anne Hayden, DFP, 207-725-9742.

May 11: 2:30 p.m., Kids program on Gyotaku Fish Printing at Lubec Memorial Library2016-05-12 00.17.27

May 13: 7 p.m., Film showing of Alewives documentary at East Machias Aquatic Research Center (EMARC)

May 14: 2 p.m., Film showing, “Desperate Alewives,” at Lubec Memorial Library

May 17: 5:30 – 8 p.m., Panel Discussion at Schoodic Institute: Stories from the Stream. Optional dinner at 5:30 p.m., Panel discussion at 7 p.m. More information available here: http://www.schoodicinstitute.org/event/alewives-small-fish-big-impact/

May 21: Run with the ‘Wives! events on World Fish Migration Day
– The Downeast Salmon Federation’s 4th Annual Smolt Bolt and Bloater Bash: Registration is at 8 a.m. at the East Machias Aquatic Research Center, 13 Willow St, East Machias, ME, and the race begins at 10 a.m. For more information about the Smolt Bolt or to register for the race, please visit https://mainesalmonrivers.org/events/smolt-bolt/, or contact Kyle at 207-263-7072.
– Birding with Downeast Coastal Conservancy, Middle River Park, Machias, 8-10am & EMARC, East Machias, 10am-12pm. For more information, please visit http://www.downeastcoastalconservancy.org/events-calendar/ or contact Tim at (207) 255-4500.
– Tours of Maine Sea Grant’s river herring monitoring project at the Pennamaquan River Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Pembroke, 8am – noon.
– Orange River Paddle & Optional Hike, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.: Hosted by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. For more information, visit http://www.worldfishmigrationday.com/events/737/orange-river-paddle or call (207)259-5040.

– Aquatic Center Open House, Downeast Institute, Beals Island, 10:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. The Great Wass Nature Trail is right across the street!
– Concluding Celebration, Cobscook Community Learning Center, Trescott, 12:00 p.m. – 5 p.m. Contact: Mandy Skinner, 207-733-2233.


Books, art, and science adventures were offered for students from six Washington County schools: Beals Elementary School, Beatrice Rafferty School, Edmunds Consolidated School, Jonesport Elementary School, Pembroke Elementary School, and Whiting Village School. IRW partnered with each school to bring an author presentation and workshops with Kim Ridley, author of The Secret Bay, and an artist presentation and workshops with Rebekah Raye, illustrator of The Secret Bay and Swimming Home.

We took hundreds (maybe thousands!) of photographs during our school visits – visit IRW’s Facebook page to see smiling faces, hands covered in graphite, and classroom fun with 500 students!

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Click here to view the worksheets teachers and students used in preparation for Kim’s visit.

Science was also an exciting part of the school visits program! Two local experts provided the science side of the alewife and their journey with simulations and field trips. Kyle Winslow of the Downeast Salmon Federation led an interactive program on the important role alewives play in a freshwater ecosystem and the challenges of fish migration into rivers. Children participated in a simulation exercise called Hooks and Ladders that illustrates the different phases of alewife migration.

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Chris Bartlett of the Maine Sea Grant/University of Maine Cooperative Extension helped students understand the fish’s life cycle and factors that trigger migration, and offered a field trip to the Pennamaquan River Wildlife Management Area in Pembroke.

We wrote about every school visit on our blog, so head on over there for more details.

The How, What, and Why of Alewives