Herring come up the Back River to start their journey to Whitmans Pond to spawn. Coming in from the Atlantic Ocean through Boston Harbor, then Hingham Bay, they continue into the Back River estuary. The herring come back to the place they were born to spawn. This continues the remarkable cycle of annual migration that has continued through the millenia.
Once in the estuary, the herring will look for the right conditions before they continue. Stream flow, tempurature, sediment loads and pollution in the water are factors that come into play for the herring to make their run. The Back River estuary supports the Weymouth herring run, one of Massachusetts largest and most productive herring run. The estuary is most important to the herring and if this environment is damaged, the herring will not comeback.
The Jackson Square herring ladder is the first ladder the herring encounter. Stephen Rennie Park in Jackson Square is a perfect place to see the herring. Grab a beverage and a bite from one of the fabulous restaurants in the area and enjoy the mesmerizing effect the sites and sounds of the ladder will have on you. We are very concerned about the impact to this fragile area with the proposed Lovell Field pedestrian bridge. The Jackson Square ladder is the beginning of the run and if conditions are not good, the herring will go back to the estuary.
We are grateful the Town of Weymouth has addressed the issue of the flood control gate. We will be interested in seeing how this work, that reduced the holding area for herring at the base of the Jackson Square ladder and seems to have raised the river bed, impacts the run.
A beautiful park and viewing area to see the herring run. Located behind the Venetian Restaurant, Herring Run Park allows you to get up close to the fish. This is a resting area for the herring before they start the next leg of their journey. Herring Run Park has wonderful kiosks with information. Here we see Herring Warden Phil Lofgren discussing the run with a young man of Weymouth.
One of the more sheltered areas of the run, this ladder is located at the base of Iron Hill and provides a wonderful viewing area for the herring and the night heron, which are birds that rely on the herring for food. This is a wonderful place for the birdwatchers to see and photograph these birds of prey.
The Iron Hill ladders are the fourth ladders in the run that are right before the Weymouth Dam. These ladders run 200 ft and is the longest ladder in the run complete with an S curve at the bottom. With a wonderful view of the only waterfall in Weymouth, this is a great place to see the herring and the night heron.
After the Iron Hill Dam, the herring continue up the river to the fifth ladder in the system. There is an electronic fish counter here. We thank the Division of Marine Fisheries for this counter and their continued dedication to the Weymouth Herring Run.
After the Whitmans Pond ladders, the herring are finally home. The long journey has many perils along the way including predatory birds and other fishes in the watershed.
After travelling over three quarters of a mile, climbing up an elevation of 72 feet through five sets of ladders, the herring are back home.
In through the Back River and up three sets of ladders, the herring return to Whitmans Pond each year to spawn,
Weymouth's natural heritage provides a wonderous place for all kinds of wildlife that depend on each other. Wait for it!
Swans ducks, geese, herons, egrets all call Whitmans Pond home. This year there is a large family of swans!