NEW YORK (WWTI) — New York is marking the 14th year of ongoing research on migrating American eels.

This was celebrated on Tuesday as New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner announced this years start of the Juvenile Eel Monitoring program along the Hudson River estuary.

“New York is home to significant habitat that is critical to the life-cycle of many migratory fish species,” said Commissioner Seggos. “The Hudson River Eel Project is an excellent way to connect students and local residents with nature while gathering data that can be valuable for the future study of this species and its role in our ecosystem.”

According to the DEC, American eels have unusual lifecycles. Eels are first hatched in the Sargass Sea, North of Puerto Rico, and arrive in estuaries like the Hudson Region every spring.

During the spring of 2021, the program will bring in students, teachers, local residents and DEC staff to monitor glass eels at 10 sites on the Hudson River spanning from New York Harbor to the Capital Region.

The DEC and students will check ten-foot, cone-shaped nets specifically designed to catch these small eels. Researchers then will count and release the glass eels back into the water and record environmental data on temperature and tides.

Most eels are released above dams, waterfalls and other barriers. The DEC confirmed that eels will live in freshwater rivers and streams for up to three decades before returning to the sea.

Since the project began, over one million juvenile eels have been released into upstream habitats in New York State.

The DEC added that this project was first initiated by the Hudson River Estuary Program and the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve to gather data for multi-state eel conservation management plans.

The 2021 Hudson River Eel Project will follow COVID-19 safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. All sampling will be conducted outdoors, with masks and social distancing.

More information on the eel monitoring project can be found on the DEC website.