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B.C. photographer captures 'fantastic visual sight' of herring spawn

Using a drone, a B.C. man captured photos of herrings spawning off Hornby Island.
Kali Wexler used a drone to capture the herring spawn off Hornby Island on March 15, 2023.

A B.C. photographer recently captured a spectacular sight of nature on camera.

Kali Wexler, who was born and raised on Hornby Island, has been documenting the annual herring spawn for six years.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” he told Glacier Media during an interview. 

Male herrings release their milt to fertilize the female eggs, which are scattered on seaweed on the shoreline, Wexler explains.

“That photo... it's kind of an initial spawn, so it's really cloudy, milky, along the coastline,” he says of the images he captured in mid-March, some by drone.

As the day went on, the spawning spectacle grew larger.

“It's a really beautiful event because it changes the colour of the water to kind of [an] aquamarine colour. It's a fantastic visual sight, especially if you can get up in the air,” he says. "It's just a really exciting time of year."

People flock to Hornby Island every mating season, he adds. This year, the event was a bit later than normal (it usually occurs in the first few weeks of March).

"For me, on the island growing up and for a lot of people, it marks the start of spring,” he says. “After passing the kind of darker winter months on the Gulf Islands here on the coast of Vancouver Island, it's kind of this just immense abundance of activity and wildlife and colour and energy."

Wexler hopes the beauty of the spawn will also create awareness around the animals. 

"Pacific herring are a keystone species. Our marine food web relies heavily on them,” he says.

Hornby Island Conservancy has tried to bring awareness to the impact of fishing on herring. 

"The herring spawning and growing around Denman and Hornby islands are part of the last remaining major herring stock on Canada's Pacific coast. Once there were five major stocks; now, there is one, and it comes here,” states the website. 

Wexler says he too is worried about commercial fishing. 

“My concern is that there won’t be anything left for future generations. Like other forms of resource extraction, we tend to keep taking until it’s too late,” he says. 

If you’d like to see more of Wexler’s work, you can visit his website

Kali Wexler captured the herring spawn off Hornby Island on March 16, 2023. Kali Wexler