Date: 2/2/18 3:13 pm From: Wayne Hoffman <whoffman...> Subject: [obol] Herring in Yaquina Bay
I got a call from Chuck Philo, and went to check out a melee of California Sea Lions and birds feeding on Herring this afternoon (Feb.2). This was in Yaquina Bay, abut 4.3 miles up the Bay Road, just beyond Sawyer's Landing.
About 50 sea lions were present along with asimilar number of Western and Glaucous-winged Gulls, and a few Double-crested Cormorants. We watched several cormorants bring Herring to the surface to swallow, but did not actually see the sea lions nor gulls with fish. The sea lions were traveling fast in "wolf pack" formations, and the gulls were mostly accompanying them. I suspect the sea lions were swallowing fish under water.
The past 3 years I have watched spectacular Herring spawning events in lower Yaquina Bay, and I see this appearance as likely a precursor to spawning later in the month. These tend to be timed to spring tides. The Herring tend to be present in the bay for at least a few weeks before spawning, but mostly stay out in the deeper basins and channels until ready to spawn.
Spawning is a mass event, usually lasting just one or 2 days in a given spot.
At this point I think spawning this year will be about Feb. 15-16, or Feb 28-March1.