Faces of the 18th Weir

They sit suspended at the 18th weir, these scaled faces in the sockeye crowd. It's the window to their water world, the portal from ocean to stream to lake, where their gills remember the taste of fresh after years in the salty sea -- and where they lead -- at least in part -- by magnetic memories of the gravel beds where they were born. They're surging forward across the solstice and into summer ... [...]

2013-07-01T18:24:02+00:00 July 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Something Spawning This Way Comes

Last year at this time, I wrote about the salmon journeying upstream to their Washington spawning grounds: Salmon are a miracle of navigational skills, sometimes migrating thousands of miles during their years in the ocean, possibly guided by magnestism in the same way homing pigeons navigate with help of the earth’s magnetic fields. Then, salmon ultimately find their way to their birthplace by an imprinted sense of smell: the scent of plants, gravel, [...]

2012-10-11T15:29:14+00:00 October 11th, 2012|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Welcome Home, Sockeye

I remember, I remember the hollowed nest in stream of stars the size of my eyes, I remember the swell of water, shape of light, celestial order to mirror the song of the river, the constellations ... ~ From Celestial Navigation by Judith Roche I wrote about Judith Roche's Salmon Suite poetry project at the Ballard Locks fish ladder in an earlier post: Steelhead Poetry on the 18th Weir -- and more Seattle salmon post [...]

2012-06-28T12:57:49+00:00 June 28th, 2012|Uncategorized|7 Comments

Dear Catfish … the Heron is Not Your Friend

This is the largest prey yet that I've seen a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) catch and eat in one bite. The heron was hunting around Union Bay Natural Area in Seattle when it suddenly flew off, its breast skimming the water because of the drag from a large fish. The heron landed out of sight, shrouded by distant marsh grasses. When it finally lurked into a clearing, I took a close look through my [...]

2012-06-07T03:05:53+00:00 June 7th, 2012|Uncategorized|9 Comments

Steelhead Poetry on the 18th Weir

This is a postscript to my previous notes on Steelhead Youth. Every year, the audio system in the fish ladder viewing area (Ballard Locks) broadcasts a series of oral histories, each relating to a particular cycle of salmon migration. Right now in April, when you press the red button, you'll hear about the juvenile steelhead migration, and about the precious few individuals paddling tail first from the lake to Puget Sound and beyond. Each informational [...]

2012-04-16T12:02:09+00:00 April 16th, 2012|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Steelhead Youth

Puget Sound steelhead travel through the Ballard Locks at a fraction of their glory-day numbers. According to this post at the Friends of the Ballard Locks blog, two to three thousand steelhead used to migrate through the locks. Now, if visitors see just one steelhead looking back at them through the window, they're lucky. A slew of environmental assaults put steelhead on the threatened list in the Pacific Northwest. Those factors include habitat loss, damming [...]

2012-04-16T00:21:54+00:00 April 16th, 2012|Uncategorized|7 Comments

Local Salmon & the Salmon ISA Virus

I came upon Alexandra Morton through a link on a Facebook page -- the Orca Network's page. Morton is a biologist who, according to her brief bio statement, is "a registered professional biologist who was living in a remote archipelago studying whales when the fish farmers came to my town." Today, she posted a revealing and disheartening piece on the spread of the ISA virus found in local salmon populations. The ISA or [...]

2011-10-29T13:23:32+00:00 October 29th, 2011|Ecology, Issues, Uncategorized|4 Comments

Climbing the [Salmon] Ladder to Success

Images taken at Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, aka Ballard Locks, in Seattle Washington. Summer means salmon runs at the Ballard Locks fish ladder . . . twenty-one watery steps from Puget Sound, to the ship canal, to the fresh water spawning grounds where the returning salmon were born. Salmon are a miracle of navigational skills, sometimes migrating thousands of miles during their years in the ocean, possibly guided by magnestism in the same way homing [...]

2011-08-10T00:18:09+00:00 August 10th, 2011|Birds, Uncategorized|5 Comments

CSI: Fish Count

I've been monitoring the fish happenings at our local beach -- the official "Fish Count" of returning salmon. I knew this park years ago when my family lived close by. It was a figment then of what it's now become, restored to encourage Coho and Chum salmon to return up creek and spawn. The habitat provides things that salmon love: gravel for egg laying, logs for hiding, restored marshlands to cradle the creek. It's a [...]

2010-11-20T20:54:25+00:00 November 20th, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Attack of the Giant Fish People

I saw these gigantic creatures slithering through the shallows -- whipping up mud with each slap of the tail. They looked like radioactive versions of pond koi, ranging from about two to four feet long. And where I was, it was just me and and wind and the sound of their slither, evoking the Creature Features that mesmerized me when I was a kid. But . . . they're just carp. Common Carp, [...]

2009-07-07T17:48:02+00:00 July 7th, 2009|Ecology, Issues, Uncategorized|2 Comments