Great swirling schools of herring converged in San Francisco Bay this month, drawing fishermen, sea lions, harbor seals and thousands upon thousands of birds looking to fatten up for the winter.
The menagerie of wildlife is a sign that the bay’s once spectacular herring runs, which collapsed four years ago, are returning to their former glory. The San Francisco run is the last urban fishery in the United States in which people can actually sit on shore and watch commercial boats haul in the squiggling fish.
As many as 12,000 birds converged on Richardson Bay, in Marin County, this week as the herring arrived en masse to lay and fertilize eggs, or roe, a delicacy for a wide variety of species, including sushi-loving humans. Fishermen scrambled to cast their nets amid the swooping, honking, squawking hordes.