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Germany to a distance of several miles. The same author, however, seems inclined to believe that
the Herring is far from having a predilection for fresh water, and that the few instances in which
they have been observed spawning in brackish waters have been purely incidental and induced
by the fact that suitable spawning places could not be found in waters of an ordinary degree of

The temperature preferred by the Herring has been more carefully determined in Europe than
here. The observations of the Scotch and Dutch meteorological societies have demonstrated that
the temperature of the water most favoi able to the summer herring fisheries of their respective
countries is about 5o.4 F., though during the Scotch winter fisheries the temperature ranges
from 40.l F. to 41.9 F., and during the Norwegian spring herring fisheries it ranges from 37.4
F. to 39.2 F. Commenting upon these figures, Ljungman remarks:

" There is good reason to suppose that the Herrings prefer a certain even temperature of the
water, and that they consequently avoid too warm or too cold water. This degree of temperature,
however, differs greatly according to the different locations, fisheries, and races of Herrings. The
fishing for spawning Herrings is, for example, on the east coast of Scotland, going on at a season of

'Translation in United Stuten fish Commission Report, part vi, pp. 143-230.
Keport United States Kiijh Commismon, part vi, p. 177.


the year when the temperature of the water is very high (from the middle of July till the middle
of September), or very low (January to March). The observations of the Scotch and Dutch mete-
orological societies made during the Scotch and Dutch summer herring fisheries have shown that
the temperature of the water most favorable to these fisheries is about 13 0. (55.4 P.). During the
Scotch winter fisheries, however, the temperature of the water ranges from 4.5 C. to 5.5 C. (40.l
P. to 41.9 P.), and during the Norwegian spring herring fisheries it only ranged from 3 0. to
4 C. (37.4 F. to 39.2 P.). But our observations are still so incomplete, and relate so exclusively
to the spawning Herrings, that it is impossible to say anything with absolute certainty excepting
the fact that the Herrings, when the temperature of the surface waters is either too high or too low,
go to deeper waters."

The theory advanced by Ljunginan in this last sentence is perhaps a little premature. Is
it not supposable that local races of Herring exist and perform the various functions of life in
totally different scales of temperature? This is undoubtedly the case with sedentary fresh- water
species, such as the black bass, which, in its extreme northern range in North America, lives in
waters which in midsummer are colder than those which southern fish ever experience even in
winter. This view is not presented as a new one, but simply for the sake of introducing the

MIGRATIONS AND MOVEMENTS. In Ljungman's report on the fisheries of Bohuslan, already
quoted from, 1 is given the following recapitulation of the different scientific theories that have been
in the past and are now heard concerning the migrations of the Herrings :

" In briefly recapitulating the different scientific theories regarding the migrations of the
Herrings, it will be found that they may all be arranged under the following heads:

"a. The theory of a central race of Herrings, according to which all Herrings which are in the
world belong to one great central race, from which all kinds of Herrings, both great and small,
come. This theory is varied as follows:

" 1. This central race of Herrings is supposed to live in the northern Polar Sea, from which
large schools emigrate every year to those coasts where herring fisheries are carried on (Anderson,
Pennant, and others).

"2. This central race of Herrings is constantly moving through the Northern Atlantic Ocean
in a circle, whose extent is regulated by the declination of the sun (Gilpin).

"3. Besides this great central race oi Herrings living in the Northern Atlantic Ocean, causing
the great herring fisheries, smaller local races having separated in course of time, causing the
smaller coast fisheries (Luudbeck).

"According to the first two of these three theories there would be no regular migrations, whilst
such would take place according to the third.

"&. The theory of separate races of Herrings, according to which the different fisheries are
caused by separate races of Herrings, each having its own locality. This theory is varied as follows :

"1. The theory of a coast race of Herrings, considering the Herring exclusively as a bottom
fish. This may again be subdivided:

"a. Some suppose that there is only one local race of Herrings in every place, which, if not
driven away by human agencies, always stays near the coast, There is consequently no difference
between coast Herrings and sea Herrings, and there are no regular migrations (Nilsson).

" b. Others think that more than one race of Herrings may occur in one and the same place.
There is consequently a difference between coast Herrings and sea Herrings, and there are regular

'Report, United States Fish Commission, part vi, p. 218.


migrations; but the proper homes even of the sea Herrings are the deep valleys on the bottom of
the sea near the coast (Axel Boeck).

"2. The theory of a sen race of Herrings, considering the Herring as a surface fish. This
theory is also subdivided:

"</. Some deny the occurrence of more than one race of Herrings in one and the same place,
the difference between coast Herrings and sea Herrings (littoral and pelagian Herrings) and regular
migrations (G. O. Sars).

'ft. Others maintain that there is a relative difference between coast Herrings and sea Her-
rings, that more than one race of Herrings may be found in one and the same place, and that the
great schools of Herrings migrate regularly (A. V. Ljungman)." 1

This table is quoted as an illustration of the uncertainty which even to the present time exists
concerning the migrations of this fish an uncertainty which in all probability will never be
removed. It is safe, however, to say that the theories enumerated in catalogue a had been long
since abandoned by all scientific thinkers. The views of Bars and Ljuuginan that the Herring is
practically a surface fish, not usually descending to great depth, perhaps never more than one
hundred fathoms below the surface, am supported by many arguments of analogy; at any rate,
they agree with what many investigators believe to be true concerning certain lish with some
similar habits, such as the mackerel and menhaden. On the other hand, Herrings are known to
occur off the Newfoundland coast, according to Mr. Earll, at a depth of fully one hundred fathoms,
and there is no reason why they may not descend to still greater depths.

"If you read," writes Professor Huxley, "any old and some new books on the natural history
of the Herring, you will find a wonderful story about the movements of these shoals: how they
start from their home in the Polar Seas, and march south as a great armada which splits into
minor divisions one destined to spawn on the Scandinavian and one on our own shores; and
how, having achieved this spawning raid, the spent fish make their way as fast as they can liack
to their arctic refuge, there to repair their exhausted frames in domestic security. This story
was started in the last century, and was unfortunately adopted and disseminated by our country-
man Pennant. But there is not the least proof that anything of the kind takes place, and the.
probabilities are wholly against it. It is, for example, quite irreconcilable with the fact that
Herring are found in cods' stomachs all the year around. And the circumstance to which I have
already adverted, that practiced eyes distinguish local breeds of Herrings, though it does not
actually negative the migration hypothesis, is very much against it. The supposition that the
Herring spawn in the north in the early spring, and in the south in the autumn, fitted very well
into the notion that the vanguard of the migrating body of Herrings occupied the first spawning
ground it reached, and obliged the rest of the horde to pass on. But, as a matter of fact, the
northern Herrings, like the southern, have two spawning times; or perhaps it would be more
correct to say that the spawning time extends from autumn to spring, and has two maxima one
in August-September and one in February-March."

Discussing the causes of the movements of the Herring schools, Professor Baird in 1877 wrote
as follows:

"Although the movements of the Herring appear to be very capricious, they are doubtless
governed as much by well-defined laws as any other portion of creation, although we are yet far
from understanding fully the conditions which control their actions. They sometimes frequent a
portion of the European coast for many successive years, and then abandon it gradually or snd
denly, presenting themselves usually at the same season in some far remote locality. Sometimes

'Report Unit*tl States Fish Commission, part iv, p. 178.


a wind blowing on shore will favor their inward migration; at other times it appears to have a
directly opposite effect. Even when they reach the portion of the eoast lor which they are hound,
the facilities of tbi-ir capture depend upon meteorological conditions; and the Scottish Meteoro-
logical Society has been engaged for several years in ascertaining what these are, and how they
may be best applied by the fishermen. 1

1 "The inquiry was resti icted at first to the cast coast of Scotland, and to pond- fishing districts therein, viz, Wick,
BneUie, Peterheail, aud Eyemouth, the last including the fishing ports of Dunbar and Eyemouth, Berwick and North
Smiderlaiul. Copies of the weekly returns sent to the fishery board from these districts during July to September,
the season for the, herring fishing for that part of Great Britain, for six years, beginning with 18G7 aud ending with
1H7-2, giving the catch per week, the number of boats out in each district, were extracted from the reports, and an
average of these six years calculated at several of the stations. These were finally compared day by day with two
series of sea temperatures; one taken off Harris, and the other near Edinburgh.

"The temperature of the sea was found to rise very rapidly about the middle of July, and to keep oscillating
slightly about a uniform temperature of 56 until the l:5th of August, when it rapidly rose to the annual maximum,
uauiely, 5?.^, and ranged relatively high until the first of September. This period of highest annual temperature,
namely, from the middle of July to the first of September, was found to be coincident with the fishing s asou in the
northern districts of Scotland; aud the ueriod when the temperature rises to the absolute maximum is farther coin-
cident with the date of the largest catchesduring the fishing season. The committee, however, consider it preina'ure
to lay great stress on the striking coexistence of these facts, since it is impossible, without further statistics, to say
whether these rela ious are of a permanent character. The fishing season did not begin until the sea temperature
had risen to about 55$ in July, nor did it continue after it had fallen below 55^ iu September.

"An important omission iu these tables is, that they do not show whether they indicate the surface or bottom
temperature of the sea, the difference in this respect being very appreciable. Another omission is, as to the relation
between the spawning season of the Herring and their shoreward movement. Along the coast of the United States,
the great spawning ground of the sea Herring is off the southern end of Grand Manan, where the surface aud bottom
temperatures sometimes differ at the spawning season by as many as five or six degrees.

''An important relation was also observed by the committee between. the exceptional atmospheric temperatures
and I ho migrations of the Herring, the fishing season beginning much later in the year, when the summer temper-
atures are low, than when they are high. As regards the relation between barometric observations and the fisheries,
it appears that during the periods when good or heavy catches were taken, in a great majority of cases the barometer
was high and steady, the winds light or moderate, and electrical phenomena wanting; when the captures were light,
the observations often indicated a low barometer, strong winds, unsettled weather, and thunder and lightning.

" In conclusion, the committee recommend that, in further elucidation of the subject, steps should be taken to
obtain information which may lead to the solution of the following queries:

" 1. What determines the time of the commencement of the fishing T

'2. What determines the fluctuations in the catches of Herring in different districts, or in the same district on
dillcrent duysf

"3. What causes the absence of Herring during some seasons from certain districts of the coast t

"4. What determines the ending of the fishing season t

"The inlormation required demands

"1. An extension of the area examined, so as to include the Moray Firth, the Shetland, Orkney, and Hebrides
1 -I.itiiU. and the west coast of Scotland.

"2. Daily returns of the number of boats fishing aud the catch.

"3. The erection of self-registering sea thermometers at different points on the coast, similar to those now in
operation at Peterhead Harbor.

"4. Thcrmometric observations taken by the fishermen themselves over the grounds fished ; as it is only by the
observations of numerous thermometers in continuous immersion that wo can hope to obtain accurate information
regarding those currents of cold and warm water round our coasts which are often found to interpenetrate each
other, and which are supposed, with apparently good reason, to influence greatly the migration of the Herring. It
in said that the Dutch fishermen derive valuable practical advantages from a system of this kind, and there can be no
doubt that favorable results might confidently be looked for if a similar system were generally adopted by our

"It is an interesting fact in the natural history of the Herring that, while the season for their capture is quite
definite aud generally uniform at any one point, it varies on different parts of the coast; thus, on the east of Great
Britain, fro.u Shetland in the north to Flamborough Head in the south, it occurs in July, August, and September,
and a little earlier in the north than in the south. At Yarmouth the Herring season is in October and November; off
the Kentish coast, in November and December; along the south coast of England, from October to December ; off
Cornwall, in August and September ; in the Nonh Channel, in June and July ; and in the Hebrides, May and June.

"It is suggested by the Scottish committee in their report that when the periods of migration on all parts of the
British sea-coast will have been calculated as closely as in Scotland, these will be found to bear a ciitical relation to
the annual epochs of the temperature of the sea. This gives a renewed importance to the inquiries undertaken by


"In reference to the capture of Herrings fur out at sea, Holdsworth refers to the fact
that the I.nwstol't herring fishery commences early in the spring, fifty to sixty miles from the
const, when the fish are poor and the roe very little prominent. The fishermen, however, accom-
pany the schools in their slow progress to the coast; and when they get within a few miles the
tish will he fattened up and the roe is in a much more advanced condition."

In his latest report, already several times quoted, Ljungmau discusses the annual migrations
of the herriii}: schools and their causes:

It has been mentioned before that the young Herrings begin to wander about at an
early age, chiefly to seek food or shelter from their enemies, or possibly more agreeable places of
sojourn. It has frequently been observed that the young Herrings, as they grow up, leave the
shallow waters near the coast and go into deeper waters farther out towards the ocean, whence,
alter a while, they return to the coast in company with the older Herrings. The knowledge of the
details of these migrations is, like our knowledge of their physical and biological causes, so limited
that very little can be said regarding them.

' Regarding the coining of the Herrings from the sea to the coast, we only know that during
the ^pawning season they generally approach the spawning places in dense schools, coming from
tin- north, and that when visiting the coast for other purposes the schools are smaller and more
..(altered, extending over a larger stretch of coast, and come both from the north and the south.
Those Herrings which come to seek food generally remain for some time in the outer waters l>efore
they come near the coast, and their visits are neither as regular nor as long as when they come to
spawn. But even the great mass of Herrings does, during the spawning season, not remain near
the coast longer than one or two months, exceptions from this rule being rare indeed. Herrings
which have thus remained near the coast over their regular time become almost entirely worthless.
During the last great Bohuslan herring fisheries this seems to have occurred more frequently.

"In approaching the coast the Uerrings generally begin at a certain point, spreading from it
either to the left or right, or in both directions, influenced in this by the weather, the currents of
the sea, and the nature of the bottom. The Herrings do not like to visit the place where they
have spawned a second time. It has also beeu noticed that the large Herrings do not go as high
up the fiords as the small ones, and that, when the spawning season conies in winter or spring the
large Herrings spawn befpre the small ones, whilst when the spawning season comes in summer
or autumn the small or younger Herrings spawn before the larger and older ones. After spawning,
the Herrings have often beeu observed to go nearer the coast than before spawning; fishing with
drag-nets may therefore be carried on long after fishing with stationary nets has ceased, as the
'empty' fish (those that have spawned) do not easily enter a stationary net.

the United States .Signal Service anil tlio Fish Commission, on the American coast, in the way of determining of the
sea temperature, etc., as connected with a very important branch of our domesiic industries.

"In this connection we may state that the spawning season of the Herring, and the time of its catch, vary
remarkably in different portions of our own coast. Thus, in parts of the Bay of Fuudy audio the Gulf of Saint Law-
rence it takes place in May and June, as in the Hebrides ; at the Southern Head of Grand Manan. the great spawning
ground, it occurs in September, commencing possibly in August, and extending into October; taking place later and
lain in the season as wo proceed south. At the most southern point at which the Herring is positively known to
spawn, namely, oil' Nomati's Land and possibly Block Inland, this does not occur until December and January.

From this we may draw tiie inference that a certain minimum of temperature, rather than a maximum, is
n- cded lor the operation in question ; and ihis occurring in the autumn, that the proper temperature is reacned later
and later as we proceed southward.

"It is to be hoped that the temperature observations now being made by the United States Fish Commission and
l>y tin- Signal Service may enable us to solve these problems and to ... -operate with our Scottish scientific brethren in
getting at the true relation between physical conditions and the movements of such important fowl-fishes as the
Herri IP.-, mackerel, cod, etc. Ilrport of the Scottitk Meteorological Society.


"The going out of the Herrings is generally a much quicker process than their coming in, and
as it is more difficult to catch Herrings whilst they are leaving the coast we know very little about
it. After the Herrings have left the coast they do not stay outside any length of time, but imme-
diately go out to sea to seek food and enjoy the greater protection which the deeper water affords.
When the Herrings have been to the coast for the purpose of spawning they generally leave the
coast in a northerly direction.

"With regard to the extent of the annual migrations of the Herrings I have already mentioned
the different opinions, and I will only add here that the larger a school of Herrings is the greater
will be the extent of territory where they must seek their food, and the' farther from the coast must
they extend their migrations. It is not known from direct observations how far the largest schools
of Herrings extend their migrations, but certainly much farther than Macculloch, Nilsson, Boeck,
and their followers assert.

" The annual migrations of the Herrings may be influenced by physical causes both as regards
their time and their direction. It is well known that favorable, mild weather accelerates, whilst
bad weather retards, the approach of the Herrings to the coast, and that wind and current may
bring a much greater number of Herrings to one part of the coast than to another near it. The
general rule, however, is that the Herrings, when coming in to spawn, visit the place where they
were born. When the Herrings come in to seek food they will generally go to those waters where
they have been accustomed to find food in the greatest abundance; those physical causes, therefore,
which have an influence on the occurrence of food will also influence the direction of the Herring's
migrations, as I have had occasion to remark before.

"The annual migrations of the Herrings are chiefly caused by the desire to propagate the
species and to seek food. For spawning, the Herrings need a suitable bottom for depositing their
eggs, a bottom which also must contain a sufficient quantity of food for the young Herrings and
afford shelter for them. All these requirements are only met near a coast. Even if Herrings, as
has sometimes been said, not without a show of reason, spawn on the Dogger Bank, or other still
more distant banks in the North Sea, this does not disprove our assertion, for it is doubtless only
the greater ease with which the young fish can reach the coast from these banks which has made
it possible for the Herrings to spawn there.

"The grown Herrings must again go to the ocean to seek their food, which they chiefly find
in the currents and those waters which come from the Polar Sea. In some places, however, they
find the required food during some part of the year near the coast ; and thus there may be fishing
towards the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, as on the western coast of Norway, or
during autumn and winter, as on the coast of Bohuslan. The influence which the desire for food
exercises on the annual migrations of the Herrings has sometimes been overrated, so that it has
occasionally been considered as the chief cause, evt n in cases when the desire to propagate was
undoubtedly the principal cause.

"As the spawning Herrings, on account of their being packed more closely together and on
account of the steady course which they pursue, are more exposed to the persecutions of their
enemies, and as this danger of course increases the nearer they get to the coast, they generally go
into deep water immediately after having spawned, in order to find the necessary shelter, and
leave the coast much quicker than they came. The larger Herrings seem likt-wi e to thrive better
in the open sea than near the coast, and consequently do not stay there longer than is absolutely
necessary. Nencrantz, however, goes too far when he supposes that the Herrings leave the coast
only to escape unpleasant physical conditions; for instance, cold or violently agitated water. It
has already been mentioned that want of space or the persecutions of enemies have in former

i-i:i;i(H)s OK AIM \D\\CK. .-,;,7

times by sonic been considered as the chief causes ,,f the annual migrations and regular coast
visits of tlie Hen-inns. Such opinions are, however, no longer entertained, and therefore cannot
claim our attention."

known, the abundance of Herrings in the Western Atlantic has been constant during the past two
reunifies; at the same time so little is our fishing population dependent on the herring fisheries

Online LibraryG. Brown (George Brown) GoodeThe fisheries and fishery industries of the United States (Volume 1:1) → online text (page 94 of 146)