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The top 5 views from the 2016 herring season

It’s hard to believe that another herring spawn has already come and gone. With this year’s improvements in joint management, we were able to shift our focus from a controversial fishery and resulting protests last year to documenting the incredible natural history event.

Exactly when and where the herring spawn varies from year to year, so between that and the weather in the Great Bear, filming the spawn is always a challenge. Thanks to the Great Bear LIVE cameras, our documentary team moving from spawn-to-spawn, and a bit of luck, we captured some exciting moments this season. We’re still reviewing footage, but so far here are our 5 favourite views:

5. Clupea pallasii passing by

The narrows where the Great Bear LIVE cameras were installed turned out not to be the spawning grounds of choice of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) this year. Regardless, we watched a lot of herring traffic as they moved back and forth, getting ready to spawn at other sites nearby. This view was especially mesmerizing.

4. The milty (water)way


This picture is actually a still from a drone hovering above the herring spawn on the central coast. Every year the milt deposited by male herring to fertilize the eggs transforms the water into a unique scene indicative of the magic of the season.

3. Surf scoters scooting


PW crew member Sam Edmonds captured the moment when thousands of surf scoters that were congregating to feed on herring roe took flight. The view was as dramatic as one would expect.

2. Canid candid


Ian looked up from filming herring eggs underwater to see a wolf munching on roe on the shore… on his birthday, no less! The RED camera Ian is using is supports the raw recording of stills and video in 6K – which means the footage can go on virtually any screen. Whether we need a frame to post to Instagram or a video to project on a 30-foot cinema screen, the RED camera makes that possible – and in exceptionally high resolution.

1. A whale-come surprise

Though the Great Bear LIVE cameras missed out on the spawn itself, they documented some of the predators who were in the area to feed on the herring – including this humpback whale! We’ve seen humpbacks and other cetaceans regularly on the GBL above water cameras, but this was the first time we captured one below water. We recorded this humpback lunge feeding on herring later in the day with our above water camera – stay tuned to see more!


Overall, this herring season was a success – by all accounts, the spawn was stronger than it has been in recent years. The traditional and commercial fisheries were able to fill their quotas and, it appears, wildlife like this humpback got a suitable share as well. We’re supporting the Heiltsuk Nation and others throughout the Great Bear to help ensure the management of herring and other foundation fish continues to improve, and that the herring return in even stronger numbers next season and in years to come.

To learn more about joint-management, click here.


Conservation biologist and Great Bear LIVE director.

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The top 5 views from the 2016 herring season
The top 5 views from the 2016 herring season
Welcome to the Great Bear Rainforest
Welcome to the Great Bear Rainforest