Over the last few years Stephanie and I have been exploring different waterways in British Columbia during salmon spawning season. The salmon spawn ever year roughly from September to November. The time frame depends on species and location. Northern salmon tend to begin earlier.
The salmon attempt to return to the rivers and streams were they are born to release eggs and die. Doing this is an incredible struggle and only a few actually make it. Along the way they have to overcome starvation, various predators (humans, eagles, wolves and bears) and natural obstacles like waiting for enough rainfall for a stream to run, a blocked stream or one destroyed by human activity.
As the salmon swims closer to its destination it gets closer to its natural death – it has been without food for weeks and its body is beginning to shut down and decompose. Yet, it still has to sluggishly struggle over gravel beds and in some cases, even jump meters in the air up stepped streams.
This natural system accounts for part of the salmon life cycle and it also contributes to other natural systems like feeding bears,wolves and eagles for winter. Wolves eat only the salmon’s head, bears eat only the belly. It might seem wasteful but its all part of the system. The salmon body is dragged further into the forest by crows and small animals; any remaining flesh decomposes and provides nutrients to the forest floor. Thousands of years of this cycle have produced enough rich soil to grow coastal BC’s massive and elegant trees.