ancestors relied on yearly spawning to satisfy winters hunger.
return each spring, an ancient migration that slips upriver like
a silvery plume of mercury.
the annual shad run meant full bellies after the lean of winter.
its more about extra income and the renewal of an old bond.
A river runs deep through just about every Virginia tribe
its ancestral artery to food, transportation and escape, when necessary.
water and sandy shallows in the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers draw
the American shad a fish that averages about 3 pounds and
is prized for its bon y meat, strong enough to require little seasoning.
Shad roe is also considered a treat, fetching about $12 for the
twin, palm-size egg sacks carried by a single female.
those pale-pink eggs that send a shad upriver. Most of an adults
life is spent at sea, but the eggs need a more suitable nursery.
So when the spring sun warms the water, the shad come home to spawn.
the better-known salmon of the North, shad dont necessarily
die in the spawning process, unless theyre caught in the drift
net of a native.
are the only Virginians allowed to harvest American shad. Over fishing
and pollution threaten the stock, restricting other anglers to catch
Indians themselves practice conservation. Hatcheries on the Pamunkey
and Mattaponi reservations have returned millions of young shad
to the tribes rivers.
fish are milked for sperm and eggs, which are mixed together in
a pan, incubated and hatched. Each female carries enough eggs to
produce 100,000 offspring, but left on their own, few will ever
hatchery improves their odds by providing shelter and food through
the first crucial weeks. When fry reach about 1 inch long, theyre
tagged with oxytetracycline, a chemical that stains an inner ear
bone and makes it possible to identify them later, helping a hatchery
track its own success.
the fry are flushed down a pipe directly into the river, where theyll
remain until fall, then gradually head for saltwater.
are a big reason the tribes spent 15 years fighting a massive reservoir
planned to supply drinking water to the Peninsula. The project,
now on hold, would have flooded 1,500 acres between the two reservations
and drawn up to 75 million gallons a day out of the Mattaponi River.
have been known to vanish from areas where man has altered natures
Kimberlin, (757) 446-2338, firstname.lastname@example.org