There is something magical about the return of sea run fish to their native streams. In particular, Salmon provide this powerful drama of returning from the ocean, pushing way upriver, even into small tributaries. Then, hopefully they pair and spawn. Either way, once they hit fresh water a change in life commences. They are destined to die within weeks of their first taste of sweet water.
I, for one, mentally glorify this whole arrival. I chase their progress, fish for them, watch them, marvel at them, rarely kill them. But, later the realities of the whole process are evident. Fish lay dead in the shallows. Others propel themselves into a final resting place and die. They are done, after traveling hundreds if not a thousand miles. They live two to six years in the ocean and then return to reproduce and start the whole cycle over again.
Their deaths are curious in that it is evident they add nutrients to the watershed. But equally interesting is that they are mostly composed of ocean bred nutrients, which is transported often far from the ocean into a forested watershed. All interesting and fascinating in the beginning, middle and then the end. ‘It’s a matter of life and death…’