Herring roe spawn causes odours in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Spawning peaks in March, smell can linger until June

The shoreline between Northwest Bay and the Little Qualicum River is currently in one of the most productive Pacific herring spawning areas on the B.C. coast.

Every year, thousands of herring return to the area to spawn. Some of the eggs wash up on the beaches and decompose in the following weeks, the Regional District of Nanaimo stated in a written informational release last week.

As the eggs rot, they produce hydrogen sulfide and a foul odour. The strength of the odour depends on how many eggs wash up on the beach, which depends on the timing of high tides and storm events. Odours can sometimes be detected for kilometres.

While spawning peaks in March, the odours can linger until June. The wind direction in this area is often onshore, which carries the odour towards the highway and the French Creek Pollution Control Centre.

— RDN release