Huge Herring Balls in San Juans

Friends of the San Juans have been keeping an eye on the waters of the islands and recently got to witness a herring event! These balls attract a huge number of predators and are a basis of much of the food for whales, birds and other fish. They have given me the ability to publish a few of their shots. With thanks to Jess Newley from Friends of the San Juans for the use of the photos! Might be a good idea to include them in your end of year giving if you can! Also thanks to Anne Schaffer of the Coastal Watershed Institute.

(an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified this as a spawning event.)

Humpback and flocks of gulls and marine diving birds (the most murrelets we’ve seen in over a decade) are just a few surface ‘tells’ of the seasonal migration underway.

3 Responses

  1. Herring spawn in the spring in the Pacific northwest. This is a “Herring ball,” a tightly grouped population or “school” of Herring. Fish, birds, and whales, seals, other etc., often feed heavily on these dense schools of Herring.

  2. Interesting and encouraging news, Al. It fits with observations from recent seabird surveys around Protection Island — huge feeding flocks of gulls, common murres, murrelets etc that feed heavily on herring.

  3. Like that first one a bunch….Go herring! J

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