Relaxing by the Salish Sea


Spring has sprung, the grass is ris,

I wonder where the birdies is

The boid is on the wing,

But that’s absurd

From what I heard 

The wing is on the bird!


Spring has arrived on the East Coast of Vancouver Island

Spring-time after a long winter! It’s already Easter weekend, and my thoughts are turning Eastward. This year I am planning a journey that will allow for more exploring of ghost towns, parks, mountains and places I have never seen across the prairies. Alas, Covid restrictions mean that solid, written-in-stone travel plans have to be put on hold until the government decides what is going on. I may have to cool my jets and wait well past my planned May departure. Or not.

Easter Weekend on the Island

With Covid 19 numbers up over 1000 new cases per day, Dr. Bonnie Henry has asked for British Columbians to stay home for the Easter Weekend. BC Ferries responded by putting on extra sailing and British Columbians responded by travelling to Vancouver Island for long weekend holidays, filling campgrounds, and all other accommodations. It doesn’t really seem like we are going to beat this virus whatever we do. When new cases are over 1000 per day, the virus definitely has its spikes into the BC population. I’m kind of dreading the effects on islanders from the holiday influx of tourists.

But here I am by the ocean…

Spring-time by the ocean

sea lion in body of water
Photo by Daniel Lee on

Nothing will ever signify the beginning of the Spring season to me like the arrival of millions of herring and their entourage of Stellars sea lions, seals, and sea birds on our little shoal. They usually come en masse, sparkling like sequins across the surface of the foreshore. The shallow water, sandy beach, and patches of eelgrass make it an attractive place to have herring sex and raise families. This year, however, there was no sign of the fish. Not a single herring made itself known to the humans waiting for the annual show. I waited, and I watched for signs of them, wondering what happened to them.

Then one Wednesday morning, I parked at a residence in North Courtenay to pick up a Kerry Blue Terrier for her Wednesday run. This lovely girl is lucky enough to live right on the edge of the ocean. As soon as we arrived, I could smell the herring eggs as they warmed in the spring sun on the beach. Yes, it’s as fishy a smell as you can imagine. I looked and listened for the familiar Stellar sea lions, seals, and sea birds that would be following the schools. Instead, I breathed in an odd and deadly silence.

Springtime difference

The notable silence was brought by 40 small to huge fish boats with nets stretched wide or hauling in wriggling masses of fish with mouths open and gasping. Only a few glaucous-winged gulls held fast their positions, possibly hoping to get a morsel of leftover fish. There is no doubt that the fish boats caught every last herring in that 1-2 km area. I have never seen so many boats in such a small area. Their nets must have surely been touching one another. There were so many ships that I didn’t think there was any chance that the spawned eggs didn’t get churned through motorized propellers. Such a massive display of greed made me sad. Who on earth eats that much pickled herring anyway?

Photo by Lynne Fedorick

Days later, when I read the reports of tonnes of herring being dumped in the waters near Denman Island because there were no buyers, my heart sank to an intense distrust of our fishery’s governmental stewards. Herring, are after all a species that supports many, many other animals that live in the ocean. Think about it: Salmon, Sea Lions, whales, dolphins, eagles, sea birds, are just a few animals that need to eat herring to survive. Removing the herring from the ocean will have more of a detrimental effect on them than any other environmental influence.