Inland Bays Fish Survey Team Gathers to Honor Ron Kernehan

Rehoboth Beach, DE:  On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, members of the Inland Bays Fish Survey and staff gathered at the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) to remember and honor our friend and colleague Ron Kernehan, who died in July at his home in Lewes Beach.  

Ron Kernehan joined the CIB as a volunteer in 2010 to develop and lead a new program called the Inland Bays Inshore Fish Survey. The plan was to use volunteers to survey fish populations at sites around the three Inland Bays.  The survey, now in its fifth year, is the most comprehensive inshore fish survey ever conducted on the Delaware Inland Bays.  The survey teams have counted over 30 thousand fish each year and identified 65 species including three new species this summer

Ron developed the research protocol, obtained equipment, selected sites and recruited and trained volunteers.  He was site leader for two of the eight survey teams for the sixteen sites that are surveyed monthly from April-October, but accompanied many of the teams on their surveys. He was lead author of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Survey Reports.

Ron’s gift was his passion for what he called ‘the cause.’  All who took to the beach with him experienced his unique “fins up” enthusiasm, infectious good humor and his prodigious knowledge. In addition to accurately identifying species, he could easily distinguish the subtle and distinct coloration variations of males and females, and he was a wealth of knowledge about spawning characteristics, especially of those fish that migrated from and into the ocean during their life cycles.  

No one who worked with him can quite believe that he won’t, any day now, rush into their office with a great fish story to tell, or come striding down the beach to meet the team. One volunteer said that she didn’t even know she liked fish; she just liked going out to do the Fish Surveys with Ron. She was one of many people reeled in by Ron’s exuberance; he recruited and trained most of the volunteers who have participated in the program over the past five years, numbering over a hundred.

When he wasn’t seining, his zeal to share what he knew and loved made him one of our best environmental educators.  He seined with students in the Upward Bound program and with visiting university students, conducting surveys on the beach at James Farm.  He took pools and filled them with fish at school science nights and led programs at the Bethany Beach Nature Center.  He introduced adult learners from Wilmington University and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Delaware to opportunities in citizen science and to the Inland Bays Fish Survey.

In 2013, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays presented Ron Kernehan with the Friend of the Bays award in honor of his extraordinary contributions as a Volunteer for the Bays.  A charismatic teacher and scientist, he exemplified the power of citizens to contribute greatly to our knowledge about the Bays…work that cannot be done without citizen scientists and leaders like Ron.

To view a slide show and video highlighting Ron Kernehan’s contributions  go to

The Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization that preserves, protects, and restores Delaware’s Inland Bays, the water that flows into them, and the watershed around them.  With its many partners, the CIB conducts public outreach and education, develops and implements restoration projects, encourages scientific inquiry, and sponsors research.