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Contribute to the Restoration of Rainbow Smelt

If you’re interested in contributing to science to help restore rainbow smelt, the Maine Department of Marine Resources in cooperation with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Downeast Salmon Federation and The Nature Conservancy is looking for your help with a coastwide Spawning Smelt Survey this spring.

Two training sessions for volunteers will be offered this spring: 4 pm on March 2 for work targeting southern Maine to Penobscot Bay, and March 30 for volunteers who wish to cover Downeast waterways.

If you miss one of the training sessions, a recording of each training session will be available by contacting Danielle Frechette at the Maine Department of Marine Resources – Volunteers must either take part in a training session or view the recorded session prior to taking part in the research.

Once trained, volunteers will head to streams to look for the small shiny fish and to record important data. Data recorded will include estimated number of smelt or eggs, the type of substrate, canopy cover, and if there are any barriers to smelt passage.

Volunteers can then enter the data into a website hosted by the Gulf of Maine Ecosystem Investigation Network:

The Rainbow smelt are important prey for seals, birds, Atlantic cod, and salmon but they have been in decline since the 1980s. Monitoring the strength of the spring spawning runs is a key way that biologists keep track of how well the smelt are doing from year to year. But with more tidal coastline than California and nearly 300 historic spawning streams to visit, scientists need more boots on the ground to effectively monitor their populations here in Maine.

The vital observations recorded by volunteers will help resource managers and biologists prioritize stream restoration activities and better understand how a changing Gulf of Maine climate is impacting this valuable species.
Participants must register in advance.

To register for the March 2nd training session (southern Maine to Penobscot Bay):–vrzwiGdNC6D1cVrYVCD4zeBcd72oR

To register for the March 30th training session (Downeast waterways):

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

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