The stream is a chaos of fish. The process of their return has been underway for months but it seems like they just exploded into our streams overnight. The herring are back and I rejoice in their return. Mid Atlantic populations of river herring have declined as much as 99% over the last 2 decades. I worry about their return every year as a result. But this stream was full of herring today. I checked daily for them over the last 2 weeks and finally, today, these migrants are here in all their spawning chaotic glory.
Hundreds of silver, gold and blue mirror sided fish flowed up river past me. They didn’t care that I was there. The herring swam through my arms and swirled around my head. I felt like I was swimming through a cloud of fish. Smaller males chased larger females, and occasionally ran into my arms, head and camera.
The mirror shimmering blue silver and gold reminded me of the most ornate color coordinated Christmas trees. These fish are beautiful, not just because of their physical appearance, but because of what they represent: Hope in restored fisheries. Hope in restored migratory fish runs, severed by dams, sediments and pollution. Hope that I can continue to share the magnificence and wonder of these runs and migratory journeys with my future generations. Hope that my future generations can experience the same connection to the herring’s future generations, the way I am connected to these mirror sided beauties.