Updated: Dec 20, 2019
When we got to Newcastle to see the fish ladder we met a man named Bob. Bob is a neighbor of the Damariscotta Mills and was going to give us a tour. First, we introduced ourselves and told Bob what town we were from, and a body of water near our houses. The fish ladder was originally constructed in 1807 but in 2007 it was in need of great repair. So the towns and neighbors (including Bob) held fundraisers to rebuild the fish ladder. Next, Bob led us down the road a bit to a building by the river where they harvest and load the alewives to give to people. He explained to us that not many people like to eat alewives, but that lots of lobster men use them as fresh bait.
After that, we walked across a small bridge so we could see the actual fish ladder. The fish ladder is a series of rock and cement chambers that are in the river, and help the alewives swim upstream to spawn. Alewives are anadromous, which means they spend most of their lives in the ocean but migrate upstream to ponds or rivers to spawn. A female alewife can lay between 60,000 and 250,000 eggs. But sometimes only three or so juveniles make it back to the ocean. This surprised me, but Bob explained that alewives have many predators including larger fish and birds, like Herons and Ospreys.
I am sure that the alewives are very grateful to all of the people that helped to rebuild the fish ladder, and so are we because we got to go on a fun field trip and learn about them!
If you are interested in learning more about alewives and the Damariscotta Mills Fish Ladder Restoration click here. Thanks for reading!