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Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey

Project Status: Current / Annual


The Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey is a citizen science program at its best. This all-volunteer effort is studying the fish population of the Inland Bays at 16 sites around the three Bays and their tributaries. 2011 was the first year of this long-term study that will track the changes in the fish community over time.

What’s it like to do a Survey?

The project is completed by multiple teams of 3 to 5 volunteers which sample the sites using seine nets. The teams use 30-foot nets to capture fish which are identified, counted, measured and returned to the Bays. With more than 100 species of fish known to use the Bays (48 collected in 2018!), teams never know what they will find. 

Get Involved

This year because of the recent development of the COVID 19, the Center is launching a virtual Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey Kick-off meeting to start our preparation for the survey season*. If you would like to participate in this year’s survey, it is as easy as following the steps below. We invite you to start watching the Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey Kick-off video presentation. After watching the video you can complete all the required information to sign-up using the resources below. Thank you for your interest and support. We hope to see you soon!

*All Center survey activities are postponed until at least June 1st or until health and safety risks related to COVID-19 are resolved. 

STEP 1: Watch the Virtual Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey Kick-off Presentation

STEP 2: Review the Frequently Ask Questions for the Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey

When does the survey occur?

Normally, each team goes out once per month from April through October. This year due to the coronavirus, April samples will be collected by CIB staff without volunteers. We expect that beginning in May, normal sampling will resume. Each team goes out on a different day, and the schedule can be found on the fish survey webpage: https://www.inlandbays.org/projects-and-issues/all/fishsurvey/

How long does the survey take?

Survey times vary based on how many fish are caught at each site. Some teams survey three sites, while others survey 5 sites, which also influences survey duration. In general, surveys in May take around 2 hours as fewer fish are caught. Surveys in June, July, and August can take around 3 hours, while surveys in September and October take around 2 hours to complete.

Do I need to attend all the surveys if I sign up for a team?

No. You will sign up for a team and be placed on their email list. The team leader will email all signed up members a few days before the scheduled seine with details on meeting time and location. You DO NOT need to attend each survey, only those you wish you help with.

What do I need to bring?

Closed-toed shoes are mandatory! Other than that, wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty or wet in, and it is always a good idea to bring water, sunscreen, and bug spray. A camera to take photos is also welcome!

What if I don’t know how to identify fish species?

Don’t worry, each team has at least one person at each survey that is skilled in fish ID and can help train you and improve your skills.

Where does each team survey?

Teams 1 and 5 survey Rehoboth Bay (starting at the CIB office at the Indian River Inlet Marina, and ending at Angola Neck Preserve off Angola Neck Rd). Team 1 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 5 goes out in the second half of each month.

Teams 2 and 6 survey the upper Indian River (starting at Sandy Beach Drive in Dagsboro, and ending at the Peninsula Community in Long Neck). Team 2 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 6 goes out in the second half of each month.

Team 3 and 7 survey the southern Indian River (starting at the new G&E Hockers grocery store at Cedar Neck and Fred Hudson Rd, and ending in a community by the James Farm preserve off Cedar Neck Rd). Team 3 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 7 goes out in the second half of each month.

Teams 4 and 8 survey Little Assawoman Bay (starting at Fenwick Island State Park Bayside just south of South Bethany and ending in the Assawoman Wildlife Refuge). Team 4 goes out in the first half of each month, Team 8 goes out in the second half of each month

Can my children or grandchildren come?

Absolutely! However, anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult for supervision.

Can I sign up for more than one team


What is it like to be a team leader?

Team leaders are responsible for emailing their team members a few days before each seine and making sure they have enough participants to perform the survey. (Absolute minimum is two people including them). The Team leader also coordinates with other team leaders, Zach Garmoe, and Dennis Bartow, to determine how they will get the gear they need for the seine to be completed. You do not need to be proficient in fish ID, though you should know the common species we get, and if you cannot ID species, you should ensure someone on your team can perform that task at each seine. You are also responsible for making sure the data is collected following the protocol, and that each item on the datasheet is filled out completely and correctly.

If you have any other questions please contact Zachary Garmoe at 302-226-8105 or zgarmoe@inlandbays.org

STEP 3: Determine which team works best for you using the 2020 Inland Bays Shorezone Fish & Blue Crab Survey Schedule

STEP 4: Fill the sign-up form

STEP 5: Fill the 2021 Volunteer Liability Waiver*

Volunteer Waiver-Digital App

*It is needed for each individual or family member participating and it should be completed prior to your survey date. Please note: Individuals under the age of 18 must have an adult chaperone on-hand at all times.


Thank you for your support of the Center’s mission. If you would like more information about other volunteer opportunities with the Center filled our Volunteer Application. Another way to support our mission is by donating HERE!


Volunteer Resources/Documents
Fish Monitoring Survey

Click to read the brochure >>

Data and Project Reports


Remembering Ron Kernehan

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, members of the Inland Bays Fish Survey and staff gathered at the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays to remember and honor our friend and colleague Ron Kernehan.

View the slide show.  | Watch Ron in action. | Read our remembrance.

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