If you were to ask a group of experts to make a list of culturally important foods in the Pacific Northwest, it would not be a surprise if salmon rose to the top. But researchers say Pacific herring may have at times rivaled salmon in importance in the Salish Sea. Scientists believe that herring have been a staple of Salish Sea food and culture since humans first arrived here at least 12,500 years ago. That importance has continued into modern times, even as herring numbers have declined in parts of […]
Puget Sound Institute lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis was quoted in a recent article in UW News. From UWT News Service: “Young herring ‘go with the older fish’ a key finding in Ocean Modeling Forum’s efforts,” by Michelle Ma, UW News, May 29, 2019, http://www.washington.edu/news/2019/05/29/young-herring-go-with-the-older-fish-a-key-finding-in-ocean-modeling-forums-efforts/. Tessa Francis is both the lead ecosystem ecologist at the Puget Sound Institute, housed at UW Tacoma’s Center for Urban Waters, and the managing director of the Ocean Modeling Forum (OMF), a science-collaboration group led by UW. She is quoted in this story about new […]
Herring numbers have been declining in Puget Sound since surveys for them began in the 1970s, but it is unclear what is causing those declines, even in the face of widespread fisheries closures. Less clear still is whether anything else can be done to stop or reverse them, and bring herring back. Our reporter Eric Wagner spent a day with a biologist spotting herring eggs and considering the future of one of our region’s most ecologically and culturally important fish species. Read the story in Salish Sea Currents.
By Jeff Rice One of the first steps in protecting any species is understanding as much as you can about it. When it comes to Pacific herring in the Salish Sea, much is known but until recently many of the key scientific findings about the species had not been gathered together in a single place. A new state of the knowledge report published by the Puget Sound Institute and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is a step toward remedying that. The report, “Assessment and Management of Salish Sea […]
Young Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) learn migration behavior by joining up with older fish, according to a new paper co-authored by Puget Sound Institute Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis. The paper, published this month in the ICES Journal of Marine Science, showed how this behavior leads to greater spatial variability in biomass, and that commercial fishing could disproportionately affect some herring populations. Citation: Alec D MacCall, Tessa B Francis, André E Punt, Margaret C Siple, Derek R Armitage, Jaclyn S Cleary, Sherri C Dressel, R Russ Jones, Harvey Kitka, Lynn […]
Thousands of abandoned wood pilings — the ghosts of piers and docks past — are located throughout Puget Sound. Most of them are treated with creosote, a toxic chemical used to preserve wood that contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a class of chemicals that are also associated with oil spills and burning of fossil fuels. While creosote-treated pilings are used less for construction of new piers, scientists at two state agencies are now studying the impacts of existing pilings on herring and shellfish populations along with the effectiveness of removal […]
Herring may not be the most charismatic species in Puget Sound. They don’t breach dramatically out of the water. Fish mongers don’t throw them through the air at Pike Place Market. They find their strength in numbers, schooling around by the thousands and serving as food for other creatures like seabirds, salmon and seals. But if it weren’t for these small, unsung fish, the Salish Sea might be a very different place. Herring and other so-called forage fish — named for their role as important food (forage) for other species […]
A Puget Sound scientist’s work is never done. PSI’s Lead Ecosystem Ecologist Tessa Francis sent us this e-mail about a recent call to identify some wayward fish on Vashon Island. It didn’t hurt that she happens to study the same species of fish — Pacific herring — as part of her research at PSI. By Tessa Francis Two days into the New Year I got a text at lunch from Vashon Island Nature Center staff with a picture of dozens of fish in a pool: ‘Wondering if you could tell what […]
The announcements are in and Puget Sound Institute researchers will be chairing or co-chairing at least five different special sessions at next year’s Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle. The sessions will include subjects as varied as Contaminants of Emerging Concern, microplastics, Pacific herring, ecosystem modeling and the potential influence of the region’s technology industry on Salish Sea recovery. Watch this space in the coming months for more details on these sessions and for in-depth coverage of the conference as it develops.
PSI’s lead ecosystem ecologist Tessa Francis is co-author of a 2017 paper linking increasing adult mortality of Puget Sound herring with regional population declines in the species. The authors report that natural mortality among herring four years and older has doubled in Puget Sound since 1973, suggesting a possible connection to declines at spawning sites near Cherry Point and Squaxin Pass. Age structure has been shifting in Puget Sound herring populations for the past 30 years, their analysis shows, which could have negative impacts on both herring and their predators. […]
PSI’s Tessa Francis will be presenting a lecture on Puget Sound’s Pacific herring as part of the University of Washington Tacoma Environmental Seminar series on May 15th. The seminar is open to the public and will be held from 12:30 P.M. to 1:30 P.M. on the UWT campus in the Science Building in room SCI309. The talk will look at why some local herring stocks are in decline and what might be done to protect Puget Sound’s herring in the future. View a poster for the talk.