Rapturous. That’s a word I do not use easily, but it captures my feelings about today.
I saw the shimmering in the distance . . . Pacific Herring near the surface, scales reflecting the sunlight, the school mercurial, its members seemingly moving with a collective consciousness.
I hung back and tried to drink in the beauty. I knew my bubbles would disturb them and that I could therefore never capture the beauty in a photo.
But then . . . suddenly a river of flashing silver was streaming in my direction. Something had startled them on the opposite side of where I was. I held up the camera and repeatedly depressed the shutter release button while I lived the seconds of hundreds of herring bolting past. Then, they were in the distance again; a marine murmuration; the life’s blood of this ecosystem.
Survival against so many odds. These little fish have survived against so many odds and so vital to so much life on our coast; not just in the Ocean but also to predators from sky and land.
Shorebirds, bears and wolves feed on the fertilized eggs. Hungry Humpbacks target giant mouthfuls to gain back weight lost in the breeding grounds. Bald Eagles deftly snatch talons’ full and then feed in the air. The Pacific Herring also feed the Chinook Salmon that sustain endangered Orca.
They have also fed human cultures and commercial fisheries and debate and demonstration.
May the feed precaution and reflection on what will sustain future generations.
Long live herring.