Sitka, Alaska Herring Run
In early April I took a trip to Sitka, Alaska to photography bubble-feeding whales during the herring run. This is also the time, of course, that the fishing boats gather to fish, using large nets, the herring to sale to buyers. I was told that the buyers were Japanese and they wanted the roe, not the herring. I have no idea what happens to the herring but I suppose it's sold as well to some buyer, maybe the Japanese do that after they take the roe (roe is fish egg). I was also told that the Japanese buyers were on board the boats to ensure that the roe was up to par, whatever that might mean.
The whole fishing process was fascinating to me and something I may not ever see again, although I'm already thinking about going back next April. I loved taking pictures of the fishing boats, which was not a surprise to me as I was a recreational boater for 25 years on the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta in Northern California. In all, my late husband and I had five boats, at the end it was a 36-ft. trawler, a big lumbering heavy boat not build for speed but definitely build for comfort and endurance. Anyway, back to the herring run...
All the fishing boats gather around and wait until they are told by a fishing game warden, I don't know the exact title, that the herring run is open and then its like a slow-motion race to get over the best herring spot and drop their nets. The fish are checked in the nets to ensure they meet whatever requirements there are and only then can the fishing boat captain say "pull up the nets" or "load the fish," however they do it. It looked like they sucked the fish up from the nets through a vacuum system. It was pretty crazy with 20+ big fishing boats milling around each other, a large pod of whales (maybe 12 or so), the small boats that contained people checking the nets, and then several whale-watching boats like the 42-ft. boat we were in.
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I am a photographer, it is my passion, my avocation, and almost everything I do revolves around it.