Life in False Creek: Herring Spawning 2022

Life in False Creek: Herring Spawning 2022

We built, deployed, and monitored herring nets while sampling water conditions in False Creek. Through analysis, we estimate that shortly after a spawning event there was a total of 135,000 eggs on all the nets in the Creek!! Expansion of efforts like net deployment and habitat restoration are necessary as it would provide degraded herring population more suitable substrate for egg development.

School:

UBC

Department:

Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences

Course:

ENVR 400

Instructors:

  • Tara Ivanochko
  • Michael Lipsen

City of Vancouver:

  • Angela Danyluk

Student Team:

  • Sadie Lye
  • Phyllis Lesnikov
  • Finn Johnson
  • Liangyan Zhou

Strategy:

  • Climate Change Adaptation Strategy; Biodiversity Strategy

Summary

Pacific herring bridge large and small marine species together, driving the whole ecosystem. Herring populations have historically spawned in False Creek and surrounding areas, but as human influence on the world increased, this pattern waned, and population sizes have decreased. This is in part due to overfishing, but also habitat degradation and loss. In False Creek, native eel grass and aquatic vegetation, ideal spawning substrate, has disappeared and been replaced by creosote dock pilings, structures toxic to herring eggs.

This project studied herring egg density and water conditions in False Creek. After building 10 herring nets, acting as suitable substrate for herring eggs to develop on, we deployed them off the docks in False Creek and took water quality samples. Based off our sampling methods we estimated that on February 26th our nets along with the nets deployed by the Squamish Streamkeepers had an astounding total of over 135,000 eggs on them. Imagine if the herring net project was expanded and how many eggs could then spawn on non-toxic material. While monitoring our nets we noticed the variety of other organisms that were living on them, and it brought to our attention the lack of knowledge surrounding the ecosystem in False Creek. Further research into the general ecology of False Creek along with the herring populations needs to be conducted and endorsed to develop better management practices.

Programs such as year-round monitoring of water quality and herring during the spawning period would provide more accurate information of the influences on herring spawning trends. Its remarkable herring make the journey into False Creek to Spawn, and we were privileged to see herring eggs successfully stuck to our nets. It is obvious herring populations are struggling to survive and with policy change, we can increase their odds of survival.

  • Life in False Creek: Herring Spawning 2022
  • Life in False Creek: Herring Spawning 2022
  • Life in False Creek: Herring Spawning 2022