“Running Silver – Restoring Atlantic Rivers and Their Great Fish Migration” by John Waldman is a book about the history and future of anadromous fish in the Eastern United States. The books’s main characters are Atlantic salmon, alewife, blueback herring, American shad, striped bass, sea lamprey, Atlantic sturgeon, and American eel. The eel migrates from freshwater to the sea to spawn, whereas the other species typically migrate in the other direction – from feeding areas at sea to spawning areas in freshwater.
The author uses historical records, interviews, scientific literature and personal experiences to tell the story of the migrating fish. He describes the ecology and behavior of the migrating fish but also their great historical abundances, and high social and economic importance. He describes the decline of the populations of migrating fish due to dam building, habitat loss, fishing, and pollution, but also the modern day restoration efforts. The fish are put in a social context with stories about conflicts concerning dams and fish passage dating back several hundred years. Meetings with scientists and manager occur frequently in the book, contributing to the story and providing several inspiring portraits of fish ecologists.
The book is essential reading for anyone working with migrating fish and an important book for those interested in fish and our natural world. The book is a call to action for a future with healthy migrating fish populations. Read a short review here and borrow the book from a well-stocked library.