Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 7: Nice weather... if you're a fish

For us humans, this cold rain makes for a bleak and dreary day. But as we move closer to the autumnal equinox (a.k.a. the first day of fall), these wet days replenish our rivers and streams and create the watery highways that Atlantic salmon and some trout follow to their spawning grounds.

Salmon return from the deep sea to their home river to spawn, guided miraculously by various factors--sense of taste, the earth's magnetism, currents--that are as little understood as those enabling bird migration. When they get there, there needs to be high enough water for the female fish to move upstream to appropriate habitat to make redds, the indentations in the river bed carved out with her body in which she lays eggs for male salmon to fertilize. On the Ducktrap River, where a remnant population of this endangered species lingers, some falls only a dozen or fewer redds are counted by fisheries biologists. But the fish are still hanging in there. And this rain will help them return to the river once more.

What's cold rain to us
is the way home for salmon--
a refilled river.

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