Search for Slhawt’ (Herring)
The mighty rivers; Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Mámxwem, Ch’iyáḵmesh, Elaho, Ashlu, and Cheekeye are alive with stories and lessons for us all. In Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound, where these rivers converge, one particularly significant story is unfolding as we speak.
The end of winter has long been marked by the return of the herring for coastal communities around the world. Traditionally these tiny fish represented the first flush of protein to return after a long winter. During this period, known here in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim as Tem Lhawt’ (Time of the Herring), it is possible to witness the shores of Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound spring to life as the entire food chain from birds to salmon, to seals and whales, and also, humans share in the celebration.
The Herring Surveys
Starting mid-February the Herring team works their way along the shores of the sound in wetsuits documenting where and when the herring are spawning and monitoring the populations’ well-being in the face of countless historic and current threats posed by the rapid development in Átl’ḵa7tsem and climate change.
Searching for Slhawt’ Survey Objectives
- To survey, monitor, and document Pacific herring presence in Átl’ḵa7tsem from late winter into spring.
- Establish and maintain an adaptive program structure that is sustainable, builds capacity within the community, and contributes to the understanding that herring are our relations.
- Collect data that will be useful and credible for informing decision-making processes in the region.
Herring Spawn Survey Videos
2019 – First harvest of Ch’em’esh by students at St’a7mes School in the Aya7Ayulh Chet program (Cultural Journeys)
Tem Lhawt’ – Time of Herring on the water and at Aya7Ayulh Chet – St’a7mes School
2021 Survey Results
To explore the results from the herring surveys in 2021, please visit this blog post below and you will find the maps near the end. Happy exploring!
Átl’ḵa7tsem Herring Team
There are many others contributing to this project. This is not a comprehensive list. Thanks to all the volunteers that are supporting this project.
- Howe Sound/Átl’ḵa7tsem Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative – Howe Sound Biosphere Region fund
- Menmen at St’a7mes School in the Aya7Ayulh Chet and Learning Expeditions program
- Guidance from Elder Bob Baker and Squamish Nation Elders
- John Buchanan
- Squamish River Watershed Society
- Squamish Harbour Marina
- Diving Sports Canada