Dog Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Dog salmon. So their jaws look like dog jaws. Or is it that because they run last – middle of November to December – and freeze into the ice where Inuit would thaw them to feed their dogs. This much maligned salmon is just fascinating. Hardy. Beautiful. And mysterious.

The life cycle is fairly straightforward.

What is truly fascinating is the role these salmon play in the local stream ecology. One of the most iconic images is bears eating salmon. And obviously the decaying carcasses feed a variety of fauna in the stream itself. What isn’t so obvious is the fertilization of trees and plants along the stream side. Water from the stream percolates back into the soil surrounding the stream and provides nutrients.

Now if you are like me then the next question is what nutrients are involved. It turns out that nitrogen and phosphorus are particularly important.  Fueling the growth of vegetation as surely as a farmer bringing the fertilizer apparatus to his field.

So as salmon swim up – they reverse the flow of nutrients to the sea and complete another cycle in the great balance we call nature.

 


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