DELAWARE RIVER WATERSHED
The Delaware River is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi. This means that native fish, such as the striped bass and shad, can easily swim from the ocean and the Delaware Bay to spawn (place where they lay eggs) in the many freshwater tributaries and wetlands of the upper Delaware without hitting any barriers; most fish cannot jump over a dam.
The tidal portion of the Delaware extends 133 miles from the mouth of the Delaware to “head of tide” near Trenton NJ. The river serves as a border for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Headwaters of the East Branch originate in New York and water from this branch is piped to supply New York City. The Delaware watershed is home to approximately 5 million Pennsylvania residents. Who would have guessed that one river could provide drinking water for so many people – 12 million in all (that’s 12,000,000)?
How do AIS end up in the Delaware River Watershed? Many are hitchhikers that are carried along with the cargo or in the ballast water in the hulls of ships that travel from many ports. The Delaware is the fifth busiest port in the United States, so there are plenty of opportunities for seeds, eggs, and creatures from another watershed to hitch a ride. Fishing and boating activities are also common ways that AIS can be spread from one watershed to the next. As with ships, AIS can stick to fishing equipment and the hulls of boats and trailers without being noticed.