The James River Park System - Richmond, VA

Science in the Park

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Fish & Bugs

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blueback herring
Alosa aestivais
Family: Clupeidae


Blueback Herring factsheet

Blueback Herring


Anadromous fish live in salt water, but return to fresh water to spawn. Springtime is spawn time in the City of Richmond’s James River. As water temperatures rise, waves of migratory fish sluewim in from the Atlantic Ocean and up into freshwater rivers and streams to spawn. Blueback herring, American shad, white perch, and striped bass are some of Virginia’s native fishes that return each year to the turbulent waters of the Fall Zone where they were born.

Recorded activity in the James River Park

The falls of the lower James is a hotspot for spawning herring.  Pipeline Rapids is an excellent place to get down to the river and view the spawn close up. Ancarrow’s Landing and the 14th St Bridge are other spots to watch fishermen catch American shad and white perch. Even an Atlantic sturgeon has been photographed crossing underneath the bridge and heading upstream!

Herring spawn at the Pipeline 2017 from Friends of James River Park on Vimeo.