The life of a salmon is a dramatic one. Salmon are endangered species. These underated, glorious creatures with amazing instincts are also essential to the bears and other animals that rely on them for survival.
“When they reach sexual maturity, they return [from their saltwater homes] to the freshwater stream of their origin to lay their eggs. Pacific salmon make the round trip only once, but some Atlantic salmon may repeat the cycle several times.Pacific salmon may swim hundreds, even thousands, of miles to get back to the stream where they hatched. However, only a small percentage of salmon live to reach their natal stream or spawning grounds. Those males that survive the trip are often gaunt, with grotesquely humped backs, hooked jaws, and battle-torn fins. The females are swollen with a pound or more of eggs. Both have large white patches of bruised skin on their backs and sides.
Since salmon do not feed once they leave the ocean, some will die on the way… Many must make their way over power dams, leaping up from one tiny pool to the next along cement stairstep cascades called fish ladders. In the tributary streams, waterfalls and rapids are steep and swift enough to eliminate all but the strongest. Otters, eagles, and bears stalk the salmon in shallow riffles. Once on the spawning grounds, the fish battle each other: females against females for places to nest, males against males for available females.” Read more at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
See more highlights of the bears and salmon in their annual feats of survival.