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.
A Gull feasting upon the dead salmon in an Oregon coastal river. By now, anglers judge the ‘run’ to be over with few fish arriving now. But, one strength of the run continues, the enrichment of the watershed after their last breaths are taken.
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…’
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”