Petersburg, Alaska

May 18, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

I work on the National Geographic Quest, and today, at the Norwegian Cultural Festival in Petersburg, Alaska, I met a rather distraught individual. I will introduce him to you as C. pallasii, and allow him to speak for himself here:

My name is C. pallasii, I'm a Pacific herring and here is my story.

It was a perfect day. Seriously, most folks don't think we care if it's raining, or sunny, but believe me, we do like the sun. It brings the phytoplankton to the surface, and fattens the zooplankton, and when the sun is shining, we get to stuff ourselves! I know it sounds like a simple thing, but we live a simple life, or at least we try to!

We were just approaching the first quarter moon of May, and the tides were good and strong. The sun had been shining for days, and there was so much food that I hadn't been hungry for days. There were so many of us, that the sea lions weren't able to get to me, or any of the herring I was swimming with, and it seemed that our numbers would swell! We somehow managed to survive until we spawned, back in February. Ahhhh, spawning—it is what we live for. After a long winter of dodging gulls, seals, and sea lions, we finally managed to get to the spawning grounds, and, well to put it delicately, it was divine! But here I am.

I'm laying still, trying not to stand out, and then this valkyrie grabs me up, and wipes me on her tights! My slime! I mean, I need my slime! But slimy I was not to be after that.

The next thing I know, she hands me to this large, bearded mammal, who kisses me—yech! Then she kisses me—oh the humanity! All I can see is a golden rectangle on his black shirt as he swings me wildly into the air and somehow I land in the valkyrie's grasp, and am saved from being dashed upon the pavement. Wow! I've never felt so alive. Then, all of a sudden, as if it's some kind of infernal game, she begins to swing me to and fro and then launches me high into the air...geesh! Lucky again, I am caught by the guy with the golden rectangle, just moments before I might have been dashed upon the pavement.

This continued several more times, until finally, she missed me, and I hit the road—jack! If this was to have been it for me, at least I wish they had been victorious, as winning is everything—EVEN FOR A HERRING!

The cheers were sincere though, and I guess there are worse ways to go. I think I can now claim to be, at least a little bit, Norwegian!

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About the Author

Jeff Campbell


Jeff Campbell fell in love with the ocean while attending boatbuilding school in Eastport, Maine. Since completing his MS in Marine and Estuarine Science at Western Washington University, he has worked for NOAA documenting the ecological impacts of transoceanic fiber-optic cable; the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife developing an aging method for sixgill sharks; the Lummi Tribe as a Harvest Biologist; Northwest Indian College teaching Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, and as a volunteer for the Whatcom County Marine Mammal Stranding Network. He has been involved in research developing mitigation methods for harmful algae blooms, sterilization methods for oil tanker ballast water, and techniques for screening refinery effluent for harmful ecological effects. He also served as Principle Director on a USDA-funded grant using student interns to study the impact of nutrient-rich run-off on seasonal dead-zones in Bellingham Bay.

About the Videographer

Ross Weinberg

Video Chronicler

Born in Hollywood with a camera in his hand, Ross is a documentary filmmaker and photographer who is inspired by a good-organic-wholesome-LA-vegan cause and strives to raise awareness wherever he can through his pictures and films. While majoring in Film and Economics at the Boston University College of Communication, he learned the art of documentary filmmaking as an editor and cameraman for the Harvard-Smithsonian Science Media Group. 

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