peaking in March, the Pacific Herring (Clupea harengus pallasi)
return to protected inlets on the coast to spawn. Females lay up
to 20,000 eggs, which are fertilized when they are laid. On contact
with water, the eggs become very sticky, and attach themselves to
whatever they contact. The event draws thousands of marine birds
and mammals to feed on the bounty.
Steller's Sea Lions arrive in herds, and there is great bellowing
and barking as they jostle for position in the herring schools.
Large numbers of sea ducks, like scoters and Oldsquaw (Clangula
hyemalis) gather in rafts, diving to feed on the eggs. Bald Eagles
(after all, they are fish-eagles) snatch spawned-out herring from
the surface, and gulls of several species feed on the scraps.
spectacle continues for two or three weeks. There are excellent
viewing opportunities on the east coast of Vancouver Island, with
French Creek often being a hot spot.