The great white shark tracked last week inside the Pamlico Sound ranks as one of the more spectacular local marine occurrences, but a 4-inch herring might be far more important to North Carolina’s marine ecology and commercial fisheries system.
Scientists and graduate students at East Carolina University’s biology department, led by Roger Rulifson, a professor and senior scientist with the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, are studying the alewife and blue back herring, known collectively as river herring, which are headed toward endangered species classification.
“In inland and coastal waters, it’s illegal to even possess one,” Rulifson said. “We had a permit to collect them from the ocean for study. Their numbers have dipped dramatically all along the Eastern Seaboard.”
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