Friday, October 01, 2010
The Evening Move
Each evening in late September while sitting at the dock waiting for the sun to set, this migration takes place. This wall of moving water, that ripples the surface, is made by large schools of menhaden that move into the protection of our finger of the river to shelter for the night. These fish are about four to 6 inches in length as they school, hoping to evade bluefish, stripers and other predatory fish, that can still follow them here. Menhaden is considered the second most important harvested species for oil and protein for commercial fishermen on our planet. The catch is often fed to livestock which we eventually eat. Menhaden abundance is essential to the ecology of this earth as they provide food for many wild species as well.
As I sit quietly letting the purple evening shadows wrap up the day, these little fellows will glisten like flashes of silver foil as they flip just beneath the surface of the water weaving so gracefully past the dock. I can also hear their tails flap as they break the water's surface and it sounds like gentle popcorn snapping everywhere in the quiet air. Fall is when they are beginning to sort themselves out to form large schools by size and organize for their migration south before the water becomes too cold.
This fall gathering also provides an abundance of easy food for the predatory birds such as the osprey and gulls that laugh and cry and whistle their way against the peach-blue skies in the still evening air and grab the surface of the water for the last meal of the day. Tummies full they then glide home into the setting sun.
Fall is sometimes the busiest time of the year. ( I am surprised upon my return from Canada that this is indeed a fall as I know it...but not really fall...the mornings have frost there and the leaves are falling! Here the mornings are still warm enough to enjoy.)