Two years ago while spending some time in Alaska fly fishing, I learned a great deal of information about the King Salmon and was able witness first hand the end of life they experience. The cycle begins from a single egg placed in the gravel bed. And what follows is a 7 year journey from the waters they began their life in - through the salt waters of the Pacific Ocean escaping predators and commercial fisheries, and ends when their instinct to continue the cycle brings them back to the same waters they came to know early on. In the end - when the female has fought with all the strength she has left to reach her home waters - and deposits her eggs, there is no more strength left for her to return to the sea. I'm told that the last of her senses to leave her soul is her eyesight - she has one last look at her life before her flesh is left on the calm water she began her journey on.
I spent some time on a tributary that flows into the Yenta River in Alaska watching this particular female King, filming her underwater, knowing that her eye sight was gone and end of life was near. Her once beautiful, flawless and silver body now scarred from her return journey caused me to wonder what she was feeling and thinking, knowing the end was near.
This harvesting of the King Salmon in Alaska is controlled as its numbers are decreasing due to various reasons - global warming, mining threat, illegal over harvesting by commercial fishing to name a few. Although the specie is not to be disturbed at this time of it's life span - I do not feel I caused her to be stressed due to my presence. In fact - She taught me something that day I will not soon forget.
I couldn't help but realize that we all can relate to her life in some way.
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