Nature up close: Salmon, a keystone species in the Pacific Northwest

Nov 18, 2019 at 1:00pm

CBS News, by Judy Lehmberg

Salmon have always held a fascination for me that is difficult to express. They are, at the very least, majestic. I began my love affair with them 40 years ago when I learned to fly fish and tie flies. I have caught a few Pacific salmon on my own flies in Alaska, which was wonderful, except for the one time I looked up with a salmon on and saw an Alaskan brown bear at the river's edge about 15 feet away huffing at me. I assumed it wanted my fish, so I quickly broke it off and got out of there. (Meanwhile, the only Atlantic salmon I've ever seen was in a can.)

Now, imagine that when your mother was pregnant with you she took a trip from Phoenix to San Francisco and gave birth to you there. Then you both returned to Phoenix. Now imagine 15 years later you decide to go to San Francisco, but you can't use a GPS device, or a list of directions, or a map or any other means of navigation. You just go. And you successfully make it there. Impossible, right? Yes, impossible, because you are not a salmon.

Salmon are anadromous – that is, they spend their adult life in the ocean, but when they are ready to reproduce they return to their natal stream. No directions, no map, they just go. And they successfully return to their birthplace to spawn.

Read the full article.