Working with the K’ómoks Nation towards Q’waq’wala7owkw on their unceded territory.

Working with the K’ómoks Nation towards Q’waq’wala7owkw on their unceded territory.

Forage Fish 

feed the marine food chain

Project Watershed and a group of fantastic citizen scientist partners and North Island College student volunteers have been working hard to identify forage fish spawning beaches in the Northern Salish Sea.

Forage fish are small schooling fish such as herring, surf smelt, oolichan and Pacific sandlance which form the base of the marine food web. We have recently found that some of these fish, surf smelt and Pacific sandlance, spawn directly on our beaches. Our work is to learn more about these beach spawners and the beaches they spawn on. To do this we, along with a host of citizen science volunteers, collect sediment samples from beaches and look for the tiny eggs under microscopes. 

Forage Fish


Choose “for Forage Fish” from the dropdown to donate directly to this initiative

Forage Fish Surveying Summary

Wow 40 plus amazing, citizen scientists supported the forage fish project this season. They covered almost 30 beaches between Hornby Island, the Comox Valley, Campbell River, and Cortes Island.


If you want to help us find forage fish eggs on beaches around the Comox Valley then this course is for you. Searching for forage fish eggs involves beach surveys and microscope work. You can sign up for both or focus on one of the two aspects.

Beach surveys: we will show you how to assess the habitat at a beach, layout your transect, collect samples and preserve them. We will be sampling core beaches every 10 days in spawning season until eggs are detected. Once eggs are detected at our core beaches, we will begin blitz surveys. Blitz surveys involve sampling as many suitable beaches as possible to help us identify additional spawning habitat in our area.

Microscope work: we will show you how to idenify eggs under the microscope.

Local Ecological Knowledge

If you have any information to share please fill out the Local Ecological Knowledge Questionnaire. You can also: 

  • Send photos of beaches where you have seen forage fish in the past
  • Share local knowledge over casual conversation and send us your stories 

Thank you for sharing you knowledge on forage fish and contributing to our ongoing collection!

    Funders & Partners

    This work is funded by the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund and with support from the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Comox Valley Regional District. Local partners in this initiative include K’ómoks First Nation and North Island College.