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Invasive Gobies Discovered in N.Y.’s Hudson River

Long-term monitoring can document unexpected events such as the introduction of invasive species like the round goby. Round goby, native to Europe’s Black and Caspian seas, was first detected in the Great Lakes in 1990 and has spread to other New York watersheds through canals and adjacent waterbodies. Beginning in 2016, USGS has tracked the eastward progression of round goby along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River with the most recent collection occurring in June  2021 in Crescent, NY, five miles upstream of the Hudson River.

Then, on July 13 and 14, DEC staff captured four round gobies at two locations in the Hudson River, 12 and 25 miles downstream of the Troy Dam, while conducting routine fish monitoring. This marked the first occurrence of this invasive fish in the Hudson River. By the end of the sampling season, a total of 112 round goby were collected in Albany, Coxsackie, and as far south as Poughkeepsie.

The round goby has the potential to cause ecological, recreational, and economic impacts throughout the Hudson River and its tributaries. In addition, it has the potential to spread to Lake Champlain through the Champlain Canal. The presence of this fish in the Hudson River will likely lead to novel interactions with iconic Hudson River species such as striped bass, American shad, Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, river herring, and blue crab.

Round goby are bottom dwelling fish that spawn multiple times per-year and are voracious feeders, competing with native species for food and spawning habitat. Their diet includes small invertebrates, mussels, and the eggs of native species and popular sportfish (e.g. smallmouth bass and walleye). They are also a nuisance to anglers by stealing bait from hooks and are frequently caught incidentally when fishing for sportfish. They may also aid the spread of avian botulism through food-web cycling as observed on Lakes Erie and Ontario.

DEC will continue to monitor the occurrence and the potential spread of round goby, while also documenting population trends in other Hudson River species. DEC staff and other researchers are also exploring potential research topics such as diet studies and salinity tolerance trials to better understand potential impacts to the fish community and the extent of possible range expansion in the lower Hudson and Long Island Sound.

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