Herring Arrives Earlier in the Wadden Sea Due to Climate Change, Shows Extreme Long-Term Research


Due to the changing climate, young herring arrive in the Wadden Sea earlier and earlier in spring. 

Due to the changing climate, young herring arrive in the Wadden Sea earlier and earlier in spring. That is shown in a new publication by NIOZ ecologists Mark Rademaker, Myron Peck and Anieke van Leeuwen, in this month's journal Global Change Biology. "The fact that we were able to demonstrate this, was only due to very consistently, for more than 60 years, and continuously sampling the fish every spring and every fall with exactly the same fyke every time", Rademaker says. "Recognizing this kind of change requires extreme precision and endurance!"


Since 1960, NIOZ, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, has been measuring the number and species of fish that swim in the Marsdiep, between Den Helder and Texel, day in and day out using a standard fyke, in spring and fall. These measurements show that the peak of the number of young herring swimming into the Wadden Sea since 1982 comes at least two weeks earlier now. "Such a calculation is difficult with a species of fish that swims in large schools", Rademaker says. "One day there may be only ten herring, while the next there are suddenly ten thousand fish swimming by. So, if you were to accidentally take a measurement just one day or the other, you would get a completely different picture."

Extremely Consistent Measurement

According to Rademaker, the solution to that problem lies in extremely consistent measurement, almost to the square meter. "Only by carrying out measurements in the same place over and over again, and almost continuously, year after year, can you reliably reveal changes in the long term."

Read more at Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research