Massive herring spawn on South Beach

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By Meg Olson

Masses of herring spawn, up to 3 inches deep in spots, washed ashore on South Beach March 12, portents of a potential bumper crop of IMGP9613_8herring this year.

Pacific herring deposit their eggs on subtidal eelgrass and algae, and a sharp eye can spot the tiny larval fish in each transparent egg.

Point Roberts is a spawning ground for two distinct stocks of herring, the Semiahmoo Bay stock, which spawns from January through April, and the Cherry Point stock, which is unique in Washington, spawning from April through June. Herring is an important forage fish, food for seabirds, larger fish and marine mammals. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has stated it is “an indicator of the general health and productivity of Puget Sound.”

 

Photos by Richard Swanston

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