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A Shad State of Affairs

Photo: Emma Lee/NewsWorks

Two shad posts in a row? It's a shad shad shad shad world. [Please make the shad puns stop. Thanks—ed.] As the peak of the shad spawning season arrives, WHYY's NewsWorks has a very informative article (and great photos) about the Fairmount fish ladder, including interviews with PWD aquatic biologists Lance Butler and Joe Perillo:

Historically, the shad traveled as far as 90 miles upriver from Philadelphia, past Pottsville, Pa., in the Schuylkill River system to spawn. In colonial times, shad dominated the Schuylkill's ecosystem and shaped life in Philadelphia. "Many families relied on the protein of shad to get them through the winter. They would salt barrels of shad, and that was their primary protein source," Perillo said. Industrial pollution and the construction of dams eventually depleted the shad population. With the Clean Water Act in the 1970s, a trickle started to return, but the Fairmount Dam blocked their way.

A quick note on shad and colonial times: Many sources mention that George Washington fed his troops shad from the Schuylkill River during the Revolutionary War. A previous post from last year—We've Been Shad (that was a pre-existing shad pun and is therefore not a punishable offense, right?)—calls this item into question.