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Seining in the East River

September 11, 2017

On a recent sunny Sunday morning under the Manhattan Bridge, a group of volunteers ventured into the East River to learn more about local marine life. Wearing large boots and overalls called waders, they carefully walked out into the water with a large net to collect fish and other creatures. This process is called seining.

Teens seine fishing in the water on a sunny day.

You may have never heard of seining before. Simply, seining is the process in which you fish with a large vertical net. Working with others in a small group, you drag the 30-foot-long net through the water to collect specimens. It is a humane and safe practice for both creatures and humans alike. Once the net is brought to shore, the number and types of creatures can be tallied before they are release back into the water. This allows us to monitor the health of the River’s ecosystem.

Seining is a fun and surprisingly strenuous activity. Dragging the net and navigating the waves created by the boats in the harbor can be tough, but the payoff makes all worth it, as you see what you collect after each attempt. In the last seining outing findings included silverside, flounder, a hermit crab, wild striped bass, and shrimp. There is a marine biologist on-site to identify the creatures found, and families are encouraged to stop by to see the day’s catch.

People seine fishing under the bridge on a sunny day.

Do you have an interest in marine biology, or want to learn more about the East River environment? Come join us! If you are hesitant about getting in the water, you can still sneak a peek at the day’s findings, or greet the volunteers as they return to shore.


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