I firmly believe the herring fish is a shining example of an uplifting story and lesson. Just think, this little creature returns from the sea, swims dauntlessly against the current, in the reverse direction and against all odds, swimming and jumping upstream until it finds the exact pond or river where it was born.

This stunning act of nature has returned to the SouthCoast, signaling springtime is close at hand. The Buzzard's Bay Coalition publishes a yearly guide to help you and your family locate where the herring runs are in the area.

The survival of many fish species depends on migrations up and down rivers. To help fish swim past obstacles and damns, fish ladders are put in place. In actuality, the fish must grab a bar, as if performing a pull-up, and lift itself up each step of the ladder.

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Around here, there are two species of river herring: alewife and blueback. They look almost the same, although alewives are more common, and alewives like to spawn in calmer waters while blueback prefer areas with faster currents. For a balanced food chain, herring runs are so vital because herring serve as essential food for birdlife, lobsters and other fish, plus anglers also use herring for bait.

There's something else you should know about herring runs. After that uphill battle, when the mom gets to the accurate spot, she releases thousands of eggs. She waits to see nature take its proper and reliable course, after which the herring instinctively knows her mission has been completed and simply dies.

So where's the learning moment in all this? One can draw some education from the story of the herring. Take schooling, for instance; that is an activity that puts the mind to work. Schooling takes discipline. Critical thinking and imagining outside the box also take discipline. So here's where we make the connection from the herring: learn to swim upstream in your mind.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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