Forage Fish: Little Fish, Big Impact
Class Description: Forage fish are a critical keystone species in the marine food web. They specialize in eating plankton and then are eaten by other marine and shore species. Forage fish are crucial to a healthy marine ecosystem. Learn about their life cycles and the ways their spawning habitat can be negatively or positively impacted.
Speaker: Phillip Dionne is the forage fish research and management lead for Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Phillip has been with WDFW since 2011, and during this time he has worked on tagging and telemetry studies of ESA listed green sturgeon, developed spawning biomass estimates for Pacific herring and ESA listed Eulachon Smelt, developed new methods to improve detection of Surf Smelt and Pacific Sand Lance habitat, monitored the effects of shoreline modifications on nearshore habitat, assisted with surveys of coastal pelagic species, and has had the privilege to work with and train over two hundred volunteers, profession biologists, and AmeriCorps interns in the US and Canada to document forage fish habitat.
- Forage Fish Matter video from Sound Action featuring Phillip Dionne
- May 2021 news article in Crosscut titled “The PNW is a leader on forage fish management — but it needs better data”
- Eelgrass in Island County STORYMAP presented by Island County Marine Resources Committee
- The Living Ocean herring spawn video, shot on Hood Canal by John Gusman – Each year in early spring, tens of thousands of tons of herring migrate from offshore to nearshore habitats to spawn en masse in one of nature’s most spectacular events. Nearshore waters flow chalky white with herring milt and eggs, drifting for miles along the coastline.
- Forage Fish of the Salish Sea video produced by Friends of Skagit Beaches
- Encyclopedia of Puget Sound pages on Forage Fish
- Island County Marine Resources Committee Forage Fish Survey
The video below showcases SWS doing the Forage Fish Egg Survey at Maple Grove boat launch on Camano. Scroll down below video to find more materials
- You Tube recording of Lisa Hillier, WA Dept of Ecology, 45-minute presentation in April 2020 before the Whatcom Marine Resources Committee
- WDFW page on Puget Sound nearshore and estuary conservation
- Marine Forage Fishes in Puget Sound Technical Report by Dan Penttila, WDFW
- Island County Marine Resources Committee presentation in May 2021 on Forage Fish habitat preservation – by Ann Prusha and Anna Toledo – PDF of PPT