The salmon is an
excellent fish and an emblem of our part of the country. It also has a
remarkable life cycle.
There are 5 species of salmon in the Pacific Northwest: the king (or Chinook) salmon, the coho salmon, the sockeye (or red) salmon, the chum salmon, and the pink salmon. Their habitat extends from the North Pacific Ocean to the Bering Sea.
Unlike Atlantic salmon, all Pacific salmon species share two characteristics: they live in both fresh and salt water, and they die after spawning.
The Pacific salmon species (which belong to the genus Oncorhynchus) swim thousands of miles back and forth between the river and sea. They feed in salt water, return to freshwater rivers to reproduce, and then die immediately afterwards, in the same place in which they were born.
After reaching their maturity in the ocean, the salmon begin a long voyage back to the river of their birth. They stop feeding, and join with their fellow creatures, gathering first near the coast and then around estuaries. They swim up the rivers and streams, against the current and against the tides, during the months of June through September.
You can witness this migration is several places, including the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. You can walk onto a little bridge that spans Issaquah Creek, and watch the salmon fight desperately to swim upstream, making impressive jumps. The hatchery is a place both of education and preservation. Thousands of salmon travel up the fish ladder entrance, which is an impressive sight.
Every year a festival is held. This year it will be on the 5th and 6th of October in downtown Issaquah. This year will be the 50th anniversary of the festival.
Another place to note is the Hiram M. Chittenden locks, in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
It’s worth visiting the locks to walk around. The locks themselves are an intriguing sight, in addition to the jumping salmon. Under the locks is a tunnel with a large window that lets you see the salmon swimming by.
Explanatory signs tell of the remarkable salmon and its incredible life!