It’s that time again! The time of year when the Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) are returning to the BC coast in numbers. Not necessarily the great swarms of fish from the not to distant past, but nevertheless those that have made it through two harrowing years away at sea in the North Pacific Ocean are now back. When you see them like this, it’s almost as if they are jumping for joy at making it this far. But of course their journey is often far from over and isn’t free from danger just because they’ve made it to the mouth of the river of their birth. Quite often waiting for them just outside the mouth of that river are fishermen with nets, known as gill nets waiting to trap them by the hundreds. Just inside the river are fishermen with rods waiting to catch them ‘for the fun of it’ and then releasing them again after they’ve spent much needed strength fighting the rod line. In both locations there are often seals waiting to feast on the wary fish and of course on many rivers there are bears and eagles all waiting and hoping to grab a fish to fill their pangs of hunger whilst they can.
Eventually, as with other Pacific salmon, the pinks – the smallest of the five sub-species – make it to the spot in which they hatched from their tiny orange egg and they get to start the cycle all over again. Finally, after an unimaginable journey against the odds, their now deformed and battered looking bodies give up and the fish die. Their story does not end there though. Quite often their decomposing corpses continue to feed a whole host of forest wildlife and even the forest herself before there is nothing left of that hard working pink salmon.