Herring update: It’s that time of year again! The herring spawn is sparking a revival in the region after the long winter. Between March 27 and April 1, the first glimmers of milt were seen at Red Head, Hell’s Hole, and Knowles Bay near Port Gravina during ADF&G’s first few aerial surveys of the season.
In preparation for reproduction, herring move into traditional spawning areas and come together in tight aggregations. This gives researchers an opportunity to get on the water and estimate how many there are using acoustics. Dr. Pete Rand and his team are out on the M/V Auklet on the acoustic hunt for herring. Their goal is to survey the eastern and western parts of Prince William Sound (PWS) to generate an annual biomass estimate of the herring population. To highlight this project our latest Field Notes episode features the acoustic component of the Herring Research and Monitoring program (HRM).
In this 5-minute episode, host Hayley Hoover explains the herring acoustic work of research ecologist Pete Rand. Listeners will learn about Pete’s methods, last year’s findings, and what his expectations for this upcoming survey are. To listen to the episode, follow this link.
Call to action: As spring arrives, many of us take to the seas and the air to welcome in the longer days and warmer temperatures. This means there are lots of eyes out there that can help us get a better picture of what is happening in PWS. If you’re flying out to a U.S. Forest Service cabin or jigging for rockfish around Hank’s Island and you see herring let Dr. Scott Pegau know! A quick picture on your smartphone would be of great help informing the HRM program. Sightings can be reported via email or they can be posted to the new Herring Watch Facebook page.
This page serves as a place to exchange information about herring in PWS between HRM and community members. Updates will inform viewers what researchers like Pete are seeing during their surveys and what other herring enthusiasts see during their PWS excursions.
When emailing your herring sighting from the field or posting them to the PWS Herring Watch Facebook page include time, location, and a photo if possible. When taking photos of herring please include something for scale so that we can estimate the age of the fish. Examples of a scale could be a pencil, a screwdriver, or your hands–like the photo to the left!
Top Photo: Herring spawn near Hell’s Hole. Credit: Shane Shepherd, ADF&G