Creations
THE RIVER HERRING MIGRATION SERIES
A COMPLICATED PATH - PART 1: THE GREAT DECLINE

STATUS: PENDING RELEASE

GENRE: DOCUMENTARY

DURATION: 01h:25m:30s

SERIES DURATION: 06h:25m:46s

MAIN SOUNDTRACK: ENGLISH, STEREO

ASPECT RATIO: 16:9

AVAILABLE FORMATS: DVD-9x2, CDx1

FILMING LOCATIONS: MAINE,  MASSACHUSETTS - UNITED STATES

SCREENINGS: VISIT THE EVENT PAGE OF SCIENCES DIVISION'S FACEBOOK PAGE FOR LATEST UPDATES

River Herring Migration Series - ORDER ONLINE
SCIENTISTS AND PRESENTERS
ABOUT THE SERIES

The River Herring Migration series is a 5 part, 6 hour independent production by Illuminating Minds Media, focused on the natural history, latest science and conservation issues surrounding the River Herring. Three years in the making and spanning across tens of river systems across Massachusetts and Maine, the series weight of content draws on extensive filming in the field,  the expertise of over 30 scientists, naturalists, activists and herring experts  as well as the latest in the scientific literature for producing a timely investigation into the state of River Herring across the Eastern Atlantic.

STORYLINE

Each spring, many rivers along eastern coastlines of the United States, witness the arrival of River Herrings that mysteriously materialize from the sea. Their dancing reflections on the waters’ surface signal their mission to reach spawning grounds; an important cue to many predators lined up to feast on a seasonal bounty.

 

Blueback Herring and Alewife are pelagic, anadromous, schooling fish, commonly referred to as River Herring. They undertake seasonal migrations in response to changing water temperatures and diel vertical migrations in response to prey movement and availability.

 

As planktivores, River Herrings serve as a critical link in marine food webs by transferring energy to a diverse multitude of life-forms, both at sea and on land. Their immense ecological and economical importance is often measured by numerous species that prey on them: tuna, haddock, cod, striped bass, whales, dolphins and a wide range of seabirds.

 

River Herrings were once so prolific that humans were said to “cross rivers on their backs.” Today, decimated herring runs represent the former shadow of the million strong runs of a distant past.

 

In spite of their presence among human settlements for centuries, many aspects of their migration, biology and behavior are shrouded in mystery. What is the current state of our scientific understanding of herring species and what does the future hold for their dwindling biomass?

 

We seek to reveal answers in a five-part documentary series, aimed at capturing a comprehensive scientific portrait of the species.

 

Using advanced computer simulations, artful cinematography, a powerful soundtrack and strong content derived from hundreds of scientific publications and insightful interviews with leading experts, the series will present science-based storylines in an informative and drama-packed story of the River Herring migration.

 

The series presents a comprehensive picture of the natural history of the migration event and the complex mosaic of life-forms that revolves around River Herring, highlighting their dilemma and providing insights into the future of the species. The series will challenge widely held assumptions about the known and the unknown components of herring biology. We capture herring behavior in new ways and bring complicated sets of conservation topics into sharp focus. What factors are behind the precipitous decline of River Herring?

 

From the depth of the Atlantic Ocean to streams that are few inches deep, a marathon of analysis presented by a panel of  scientists, researchers, activists, businessman and herring experts reveal the synergistic interactions between and among natural and anthropogenic factors that have conspired to bring about the precipitous decline of the species.  Among topics examined are the  projected impact of climate change, water wars, genetics, habitat degradation/loss, barriers to migration, invasive plants, mortality, faults in data gathering, economical and political forces at play and mysteries that so far have eluded the modern science.

MEDIA EXCERPTS
DVD CHAPTERS BY TOPIC
CREDITS

 

INTRODUCTION

(1) Overview of herring species.

(2) The ecological significance of the forage fish.

 

THE GREAT DECLINE

Synergistic interactions of anthropogenic and natural factors that have led to the precipitous decline of the once superfecund herring species over time.

 

INVASIVE PLANTS

(1) A habitat assessment at the Whitman's Pond - spawning destination of herrings at Weymouth Herring Run in Massachusetts, USA.

(2) The ecological impact of nutrient overload on plant growth and invasive species.

(3) Challenges for managing and removal of excessive plant biomass.

 

EUTROPHICATION AND PH

(1) Cascading Impacts of eutrophication and excessive levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorus buildup in water bodies and the life forms they contain.

(2) Assessment of water PH levels in urbanized lakes.

 

DEGRADED HABITATS

Citing memories from his childhood, Weymouth warden and naturalist Philip Lofgren reflects on the progressive degradation of the bygone prime spawning grounds of the Weir River in Massachusetts, USA - formerly harboring a thriving herring population.

 

DAMS

(1) Long-term impact of dams on the watershed ecosystems and the migratory fish.

(2) The many challenges for dam removal and modification of water bodies.

 

CONTAMINANTS

(1) Overview of pollution in urbanized watersheds.

(2) Synergistic interactions of xenobiotics and disease causing organisms accentuated by episodes of nutrients overload.

(3) Fishes’ short-term defense mechanisms against pollutants.

(4) Impact on recruitment, growth and survival of adults and juvenile herrings.

 

PREDATION FACTORS

(1) Impact of Striped Bass predation on the population dynamics of River Herrings.

(2) The collapse of Menhaden as the underlying cause of the River Herring's decline.

(3) The causes and the consequences of the Menhaden’s decline due to overfishing, demands for pharmaceuticals and other profitable derivatives.

(4) The extent of the collapse of the Menhaden as exemplified by  personal testimony of the local fisherman and naturalist Philip Lofgren.

(5) The economical impact of a thriving population of predatory fish thanks to the  abundant Menhaden and River Herrings that once fueled the growth of the sport and recreational fishing industry.

(6) The importance of identifying and managing at risk and comparatively more resilient herring stocks against fishing.

 

BYCATCH

(1) The assessment surrounding the incidental capture of non-target species such as River Herrings that are mixed with heavily targeted Atlantic Herrings during the ocean phase of their life-cycle.

(2) Dismissal of bycatch as the main cause of River Herring’s decline.

(3) Challenges posed by faulty and/or incomplete data gathering leading to possibly inaccurate bycatch estimates.

(4) A look at the impact of fishing industry on both the Atlantic and River Herring stocks.

 

GENETICS

(1) Species composition and differences in Alewife vs. Bluebacks.

(2) Proposed genetic structure of  Alewife and Bluebacks along the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard.

(3) The consequences of restocking depleted runs from a greatly limited genetic pool of stocks that have gone through episodes of major population crash and bottleneck effects due to damming and intensive harvest.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

(1) An introduction to climate change.

(2) The shifting of runs to earlier times.

(3) Projected changes in temperature and precipitation patterns.

(4) A move toward frequent and more intense storms.

(5) Drier summers and falls.

(6) Impact on water quantity and quality and spawning habitats.

(7) Estuary loss due to sea level rise.

(8) Ocean PH and acidification.

(9) Cascading changes across food web due to zooplankton availability.

(10) Dynamics of the Eastern Atlantic oceanic, weather and climate systems.

(11) A northward migration of cold water fish species.

(12) The great uncertainty about the human induced climate change.

 

PILGRIM NUCLEAR PLANT

A protest by activists against the wanton destruction of marine life including millions of River Herrings by the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA.

 

CLOSING

Closing thoughts on the cumulative impact of anthropogenic factors that have led to the great decline of the herrings.

 

 

 

RESEARCHED, PRODUCED, DIRECTED, SHOT AND EDITED BY: SHERVIN AZAD ARYA

SERIES COMPOSER AND MUSIC PRODUCER : CHRISTOPHER RENNA - CHROMATOPHONE PRODUCTIONS

EXECUTIVE AND SERIES PRODUCER: SHERVIN AZAD ARYA

MOTION GRAPHICS, ANIMATIONS, SCORING DIRECTOR, SOUND DESIGN AND AUDIO MIX: SHERVIN AZAD ARYA

ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE: CHRISTOPHER RENNA | ALEX MANSFIELD

ADDITIONAL STILLS: MICHAEL ARMSTRONG | GIORGI MEHURCHLISHVILI

SUPPLEMENTARY ANIMATIONS: NASA IMAGERY | SCIENTIFIC VISUALIZATION STUDIO

AERIAL MAPS: GOOGLE EARTH | BING

SPECIALIZED FILMING SYSTEMS ENGINEER: MARC DAVIDSON | MYSTIC MOTION CONTROL

HONORARY PRODUCERS: ED LOFGREN | PHILIP LOFGREN

 

PANEL OF INTERVIEWEES:​ MICHAEL ARMSTRONG | DAVID CAVANAUGH | BRADFORD CHASE | JONATHAN DEROBA | SCOTT DOWD | PINE DUBOIS | PATRICK HERRON | ED LOFGREN | PHILIP LOFGREN | LESLIE KAUFMAN | EKONGKAR SINGH KHALSA | JAKE KRITZER | NATE GRAY | ALEX MANSFIELD | JO ANN MURAMOTO | JOHN SHEPPARD | ROBERT STEVENSON | THEODORE WILLIS | SAMANTHA WOODS

 

SCIENTIFIC ADVISORS: BEN GAHAGAN | CHARLIE INNIS | DAVID REMSEN | SCOTT ELZEY | ANDREW MURPHY | BRAD SCHONDELMEIER | JACKSON STEPHEN | GREG MERTZ

 

ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTORS: JACKIE ANDERSON | GEORGE COMISKEY | JAMIE COURNANE | JIM DRYSDALE | TERI FRADY | JOSEPH GODLEWSKI | KARSTEN HARTEL | STEVE HICKEY | GLEN JOHNSON | PATRICK JOHNSON | JOHN LAPORTE | CAROL LYNN ALPERT | TONY LACASSE | GEORGE LORING | ALYCIA MARKOWSKI | MEGHNA MARJADI | DAVID MOUNTAIN | BETH MESERVE MACBLANE | GEORGE MASON | SARAH MACDONALD | IAIN MACLEOD | ROBERT NESSON | KRISTY OWEN | JEFF MOSCHELLA | MARC PAYNE | JEFFREY PIERCE | ARTHUR POPPER | TRICIA PRIES | BILL ORPHAN | JOHN REINHARDT | MICHAEL RIPPLE | NORMAN SMITH | DIANA AND RUSS WILLIAMS | KAREN VALE | JACK VAN LOAN | MINKA VANBEUZEKOM | DIANE WINN | BRIAN YELLEN | REGGIE ZIMMERMAN

 

ILLUMINATING MINDS MEDIA WISHES TO THANK: 3A MARINE SERVICE, INC. | ALEWIFE HARVESTERS OF MAINE | BASS PRO SHOPS -​ FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS | BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT - THE BOSTON UNIVERSITY | BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT - THE​ UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND | BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT - THE UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS IN BOSTON | BIOLOGY DEPARTMENT - THE TUFTS UNIVERSITY​ | BUREAU OF SEA-RUN FISHERIES AND HABITAT ​-​ THE MAINE DEPARTMENT OF MARINE RESOURCES | DAMARISCOTTA MILLS FISH LADDER RESTORATION | DEERFIELD RIVER WATERSHED ASSOCIATION | ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND | EDENTON NATIONAL FISH HATCHERY | ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE DEPARTMENT - THE​ UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE | ICHTHYOLOGY DEPARTMENT - T​HE HARVARD UNIVERSITY​ | JONES RIVER WATERSHED ASSOCIATION | MASS AUDUBON | MARINE BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY AT WOODS HOLE, MASSACHUSETTS | MASSACHUSETTS DIVISION OF MARINE FISHERIES (DMF) | MAINE STATE AQUARIUM​ | MARINE UNIT AT THE EVERETT POLICE DEPARTMENT MASSACHUSETTS | MUSEUM OF SCIENCE IN BOSTON​ | MYSTIC RIVER WATERSHED ASSOCIATION | NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE AT THE NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA)​ | NEW ENGLAND AQUARIUM | NEW ENGLAND WILDLIFE CENTER | NORTH AND SOUTH RIVERS WATERSHED ASSOCIATION | US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE | WAMPANOAG NATIVE AMERICAN HOMESITE - T​HE PLIMOTH PLANTATION | WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION (WHOI)

 

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