The Beginning of the Herring Spawn

Jordan, leaning perilously over the side of the boat, attaching the sunken hemlock branches to a log


Herring are small, oily fish that migrate along the coast of British Columbia to spawn in early spring. They are an important food source for local First Nation communities. The fish spawn on seaweed, rocks, and anything else that is in protected areas of the waterways. To harvest herring eggs, local community members strategically sink kelp or hemlock branches for the fish to spawn on, then collect the branches covered in roe.


As the herring begin to spawn this year, we are poised to document this impressive annual ritual with underwater and above water cameras and hydrophones set on strategically placed hemlock branches. Jordan Wilson, with his immense local knowledge, assisted us in choosing a site, sinking the branches, and placing the equipment.


Soon after the spawn began, a late winter storm rolled through. The herring need calm protected waters for a successful spawn, and moved away or hid deep in the water while the wind blew and the waves built. Now we wait patiently for them to return and continue their amazing ritual.

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