Beach Seining for Fish


We found beautiful treasures from our ocean when we arrived at Pavillion Beach in Gloucester. Phil Colarusso had invited a group of ocean enthusiasts to come check their findings at low tide. Phil Colarusso from the EPA heads up our yearly Zostera Marina conference and overseas everything Seagrass in our neck of the woods. So I was super excited on this spring- like June morning. 

As it turned out I wasn’t the only seagrass enthusiast on the beach that morning. I was also introduced to ocean advocates from Salem Sound to scientists such as Diana Chin from North Eastern University. 

Here Diana is holding up one end of the Seine.  Each person holds an end pole and walks through the water. 

The seine is set parallel to shore or in the form of an arch then pulled in by hand as two or more people walk towards the shore holding the poles that are attached to either end. The seine catches fish and other creatures that were between the net and the shore. 

Beach seine nets are used to catch fish that inhabit near shore beaches, marshes, lakes and streams and are common tools for organizations. Here Phil wanted to take stock of the fish that live in the eelgrass bed in Gloucester.   


It was mesmerizing looking at all the Pipefish( relatives of Seahorses) and tiny Crustaceans darting across the buckets. There were a bunch of animals including shrimp, crabs, and fish. The primary purpose of the Seining was to find out which fish are using eelgrass beds as a nursery habitat.  The scientists were looking for juvenile fish at this time of year.

“As many of you know, eelgrass beds act as nurseries for the early life stages of fish, lobsters, and other animals” Diana explains.  “Since eelgrass can provide physical protection from predators and some buffering of inhospitable environmental conditions such as high water temperatures, waves and currents it’s a perfect nursery.”

A big thank you to Phil and Diana here reminding us that the beach seining is super cool!!!

Cool Facts about the Northern Pipefish (Syngnathus fuscus)

Ref: Hudson River Park

  • Northern pipefish have long and slender bodies, mimicking the shape of seagrass in order to camouflage from predators
  • The northern pipefish is covered by a thick set of bony scales
  • Along with seahorses, belong to the family syngnathidae meaning “fused jaw”
  • Just like seahorses, the males of the species keep their young in a pouch
  • Pipefish are closely related to seahorses.
  • Like lined seahorses, dusky pipefish are able to change color to match their surroundings.
  • pipefish have tiny dorsal and pectoral fins that beat rapidly as it leisurely swims — either vertically or (mostly) horizontally. A pipefish steers by moving its head from side to side.
  • Pipefish are also related to the cool sea horse (See here for more info: Brittanica)

 What’s Seagrass Got to Do with anything???

Zostera Marina (AKA Seagrass or Eelgrass) meadows supports a diverse community of marine life, including this fascinating fish species. The seagrass blades provide shelter and allows the pipefish to avoid detection. The blendability factor! It is also shelter for many creatures including the pipefish from the hydrodynamic forces of waves and currents.

In eelgrass meadows, pipefish are able to find lots of food as well as shelter from predators. However, the health and abundance of the eelgrass habitat is essential for the survival of this fascinating fish species. If eelgrass populations were to decline or disappear, the pipefish and other dependent species would be in trouble. 

Pipefish have a few predators since they can camouflage themselves within seagrass beds. How cool!!!! They can  imitate blades of grass by positioning them selves vertically within grass beds and swaying side to side..this sounds like another with vertical lines!!! 

More on Pipefish:

Cheasapeake Bay Program

Another beautiful day to gather around and watch the wonders of our oceans!!!!