The harsh winds that forced us to turn around are still keeping us by anchored. All we can do is to hold out for the weather to improve before we can continue our efforts to document the wasteful and destructive fishing in the North Sea. Somehow, this day of waiting got me thinking about two promises concerning animals I for some unknown reasons I made before I got to the ship. The first one was to kiss a seal if I see one, and the other was to look out for the king of herrings. I don’t exactly know how these meetings with animals are supposed to happen out here, but the sea might surprise me. In a way I hope it doesn't because the only ways I can imagine how I would meet any animals, apart from sea gulls, out here also means I will be terribly cold, wet and most likely under water.
The king of herrings is not the most famous inhabitant of the sea and might not be familiar to all of you. The first time he showed up in my life was on one of those posters with all the different fish species in the North Sea. It certainly was the coolest fish on that poster and it has attracted me with its unique and mysterious looks ever since. If you don’t know anything about the king of herrings I can tell you what the internet told me: the king of herrings is considered to be the world's longest bony fish and can grow up to 5 or 6 meters long, and some folks out there claim there have been reports of examples over 17 meters long. It has a silvery body with blue streaks, a strange looking head, something that looks like sleek a red mane and, of course, a big red crown (all true, google it). And, according to old Norwegian folk tails the king of herrings swims in front of the large shoals of herring and guides them through the dark and deep oceans of the world.
But I wonder what team is he really playing for? Herring is one of the main staple foods of the sea for predatory species and from what I have seen (on the Blue Planet) they pretty much all get eaten. Of course...
The king of herrings is a pretty rare species and it could be just the herring guided by the king that are the ones who get away. The more I think about it the more this makes sense, and I really think the king should consider expanding his operations and also include guidance to the cod, plaice and sharks of the North Sea – they could really use some help to stay out of all the trawls that are carving up the sea beds. If I somehow do get to meet the king - I promise I will try to get him to revise his business plan. In the meantime I promise we will do our best to out here without him.