Monday, October 7, 2013

Spawn until you die... salmon run

The new farm has 1/2 mile of frontage on the north fork of the stilliguamish river; I believe that the river hosts a run of every kind of salmon found in washington state.   Most of the time it's a clear, cold, fast-running river with a cobbled bottom; occasionally it floods, but its drainage area isn't that big, so the wateer comes up, and then goes down, usually in a few hours.   It can flood pretty dramatically during those hours, though; river levels vary by as much as 20 feet vertical.

Male pink salmon with hump that develops during breeding
 This is an odd-numbered year; that means that we get a pink salmon run in addition to the other species.  Pinks are prolific and have strong runs.  right now theres tens of thousands of them in the river, making redds, guarding them and then dying. 

They can see pretty well, and they will see me as I work along the river with my tractor, and out of deference to them I try to keep my activities to a minimum; they have a finite amount of energy to get their breeding done, and it's been several weeks or a month since they last ate.  They are very serious about this task. 
Female pink salmon
 There are thousands of dead salmon up and down the river; so many that all of the local bird species are stuffed; they cannot eat any more salmon.  Ducks, geese, crows, ravens, hawks and all manner of small predators share the bounty of the salmon run. 
Consumed pink salmon
The pinks will all die in  the next couple of weeks, and their fry will hatch and travel down to the sea, also to return on an odd-numbered year. 

1 comment:

SmithGang said...

That's neat n very interesting. Ty for sharing.