The ongoing Shubenacadie River monitoring
program is the most extensive biological study ever conducted on the river.
Each year, the fish and other species collected from plankton and seine nets contribute
to science-based understanding of the estuary. These include Striped bass, Gaspereau,
American shad, Atlantic silverside, Smelt, American eel, Atlantic tomcod, Threespine
stickleback, Northern pipefish, Winter flounder, Killifish, Cunner, Mummichog, Grass
shrimp, Sand shrimp, mysids, copepods, and amphipods, among others. We even
count a little copepod called Scottolana
canadensis since it is important food for first-feeding Striped bass. It
got its name after being discovered in the Shubenacadie River back in 1923.
Atlantic salmon were not excluded from the
study; adults migrate past the Alton site when returning from the sea to spawn further
upriver in freshwater, and as smolts moving out to sea. Both of these life
stages are salt tolerant to levels above what they may encounter during brine
release, and the other life stages of salmon do not live in tidal estuaries.
The smolts have been tracked at the Alton site using sonic tags and have been
found to move quickly past the site with the tide. This tagging will be
repeated to see if they pass through the channel.
The studies examined the published
scientific literature on all species that inhabit the estuary throughout the year
and considered their salt tolerances and any risks they may face from the Alton
Project. Early life stage Striped bass – meaning the egg, larvae, and juvenile
stages – were highlighted as the most sensitive. If, during the course of the
monitoring/studies, other equally sensitive species are identified, the study can
be expanded to include them in greater detail.
All fish and other organisms collected
during the study are recorded, as are changes in the estuary’s environmental
conditions (salinity level, tidal flows, and water temperature). For more
information on the rich data collected to date, see the Fish Fact Sheets.