It’s one thing to see a still photo of a stream full of salmon, but it’s something else to see them in motion. We were blown away with how full of fish the Taiya River was. And the water was so shallow that you wonder how they can swim through it. These salmon–pink salmon, also called humpies for the humps on their backs–were barely swimming, more like maintaining their positions in the stream without making any headway. As they approach the end of their life cycle, they can barely make their way to the lake or stream where they hatched to begin the next generation. They never really readjust to the fresh water after living in the Pacific Ocean for years. They stop eating and use what energy they have left to swim–or flop–upstream. Some of them were pretty ragged looking, and the males were already starting to challenge each other for dominance. Sea gulls, not strong enough to go after younger, more robust salmon, were taking advantage of their weakness by swooping down and pecking at them.
Salmon spawning is one of nature’s many interesting phenomena. There are so many people and wildlife in Alaska that depend on it. So exciting to witness it first hand.