Sunday, November 16, 2008
Fish in Trees
It was only last week that my friend Ben Dennis and I stood on the river shelf gazing down at large Salmon spawning upstream. This was a good sight realizing that this once plentiful species still returns at least in smaller numbers to it's ancient beginnings. Then the storms began. (See previous post).
After the river receeded I walked out our trail with rubber boots and noticed more sand filtered through the native plants. Nootka Rose, Vine Maple, Red Osier Dogwood and other vegetation bent 90 degrees facing downstream. Flotsam of trash tangled in limbs have traveled in high waters from somewhere upstream .
The odor of dead fish everywhere, some in trees left there to dry and decompose. This is where these fish began. First as eggs deposited in a gravel "redd" by their spawning parents, protected by surrounding gravel from being eaten by predators. In a couple months they rise up as small fry to feed on tiny insects that have been nurished by the decaying flesh of the adults before them. It's miraculous in a stream full of organisms that would feast on them if provided the opportunity that they made it to the ocean and returned as adults to spawn and die. I ponder their survival as I gaze at their putred smelling bodies hanging in the trees before me. I use a stick to pick them up and place them in the stream to add nutrients which will help the next generation to repeat this amazing life cycle.
I rejoice at this time each year when I catch the drift of decaying salmon and see their dead remains in the water or stranded in the vegetation.
It reminds me that the cycle continues to thrive.