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Herring Spawning

Herring Spawn at Palm Beach

Watch the ocean water turn milky and frothy with milt from the males and get a fish’s eye view of seaweed coated in tiny white eggs, like tapioca. Why am I excited? Well it’s the first time I’ve seen herring spawning here in the 9 years we’ve lived near Palm Beach and it may even be the first time in 3 decades! Local spawnings all over the Strait of Georgia (Salish Sea) were wiped out by overfishing, pollution and habitat destruction. Here near Powell River the issue wasn’t habitat destruction since eel grass, rockweed and other seaweeds have been here, it was a massive industrial commercial fishery which wiped out these local stocks, from what the ‘old-timers’ tell me. For short term, big bucks for a few people the herring were wiped out for 30 years. Salmon, sea lions, whales, eagles and others had a major food source destroyed in a few short years.

Herring are one of the most important ‘forage fish’ which feed salmon, lingcod, humpback whales, sea lions and seals, ducks, loons etc. Even Orca benefit since they feed on salmon which feed on herring. More herring means more fish, sea lions and whales!!!!

Now I’ve documented herring and sand lance, another very crucial ‘forage fish’, spawning at Palm Beach. And eggs of winter smelt have also been found. Vive la Palm Beach!!!

March 2014, Salish Sea, Malaspina Strait, Sunsine Coast, British Columbia, Canada

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Googly Eyed Herring Eggs

Googly eyes rotating inside these herring eggs are so cool!! How many can you see moving? Eyes are the only part of the developing herring which has pigment. When they hatch the bodies are transparent. And they are 5 mm long when they come out of a 1 mm egg, so they are really coiled up inside. These eggs are 13 days old. It looks like some may have hatched or they may have been popped in the rough and tumble intertidal zone. These eggs were filmed out of the water at low tide. What a harsh place the intertidal zone is; part of the time exposed to air and drying out by the sun, or possible freezing temperatures, then as the tide rises they’re pummeled by waves and any flotsam and jetsam tumbling about.
Palm Beach, Powell River region, Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada    March 2014

 

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