about south river federation

The chain pickerel you see below is a member of a venerable old Chesapeake Bay family, but one

that has not been seen in the South River creeks for many years. A number of locals remember

catching chain pickerel... until one day there weren't any more. The grasses that provided their

feeding grounds had succumbed to water pollution in the early 1970s.


Due to supportive donors, the Federation has been able to conduct intensive chemical and

biological monitoring programs around the South River Watershed. In 2015, the Federation

discovered some spectacular findings! Chief among them was the identification of both juvenile

and mature chain pickerel (in photo) at our Wilelinor restoration site, our oldest project in Church

Creek. The reappearance of these fish is a Clear Sign of habitat recovery in creeks of the South

River. Due to our supporters, we are able to reconstruct stable ecological systems in our creeks

and river, bringing back this distinguished family of fish.


About Chain Pickerel

Pikes and pickerels evolved from herrings almost 100 million years ago, with North American

species like the chain pickerel appearing in our landscape by about 25 million years ago. The wild

habitats of the Annapolis area had many beaver swamps and bogs that supported chain pickerel.


By the mid-1700s, when most of the forests had been cut down and the beaver had been

exterminated by fur trappers, the bogs and swamps vanished. But our local creeks and their thick

grass beds still provided habitats for apex predators like the gigantic chain pickerel until the grasses

also disappeared. These fish, as 'apex predators', are at the top of the food chain and depend on a

healthy ecological structure. When the organisms at the bottom of the food chain disappear, the

apex predators wind up with nothing to eat.

DSC 1182

Juvenile Chain Pickerel