Cisco: A heritage fish restored

Cisco, a fish species new to Seneca Park Zoo, are on display with hatchery-reared lake sturgeon as part of a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) project led by the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Science in Cortland, NY, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

The USGS, DEC and Zoo staff celebrated the reintroduction of 145,000 cisco, also known as lake herring. Two releases took place in September and November at the Newport Yacht Club, at the foot of Irondequoit Bay.

Cisco, a name derived from Chippewa (Ojibwe) Native American and Canadian languages meaning “fish with oily skin,” were decimated by more competitive invasive fish species of the Great Lakes such as alewife and rainbow smelt. With the invasive species now in check, the timing is perfect to restore native prey species of fish back to Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario to add a natural balance to the food web.

Visit the Zoo’s ECO Center to see two native fish species, cisco and lake sturgeon, which were saved by science and are making a tremendous comeback in Greater Rochester’s waterways.

– Jeff Wyatt, Director of Animal Health and Conservation