A vast herring spawning ground off Scotland’s west coast has been spotted from space.

Researchers used underwater cameras to film the eggs, off Wester Ross, after light blue plumes were picked up on satellite images. Environmentalists say the sea area where the fish have spawned needs urgent protection against damage from trawling and scallop dredging.

The Scottish government says protecting these marine features is a top priority. Stocks of herring have started to return to some areas where they were wiped out by overfishing in the 1960s and 70s. Climate change is also thought to have played a part in their demise as ocean temperatures alter.

The first suspicion that spawning had taken place came when Gairloch resident Peter Cunningham – who works for the Wester Ross Fisheries Trust – spotted unusually high numbers of birds diving in the area. It was accompanied by a lighter blue colouration, visible from the shore, which was caused by herring sperm.

Peter contacted the environmental charity Open Seas who used open-source satellite images to pinpoint the exact location of the grounds.



For more information, please see story on Wester Ross Fisheries Trust website here.