The Natural History Centre will be open on Saturday, March 4th from 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm during Conservancy Hornby Island’s Herring Fest weekend. Come check out our herring life cycle display which demonstrates the deep interrelationship between herring and other west coast wildlife.
A herald of spring, the March herring spawn around Hornby and Denman Islands is anticipated by both wildlife and humans. This ecologically significant event attracts salmon, pinnipeds, whales, and thousands of marine birds. As the ocean turns a milky turquoise, eagles soar from trees to fish for herring, while sea lions fill up on the feast. Gulls remain at the shoreline for days after the spawn, eating herring eggs off seaweed.
Herring return to spawn every year of their adult lifespans. New generations of herring will feed many species up and down the coast, including whales and larger fish. Herring comprise approximately 60% of the diet of Chinook and Coho salmon, species that directly support larger predators like the endangered southern resident killer whale.
Unfortunately, the herring population is now on the brink of collapse. The annual spawn in these waters is the last of six large herring spawns on Canada’s West Coast due to overfishing. We must protect this keystone species, which links microorganisms and animals both on land and in the sea.