The Salmon Link
Besides being an utterly amazing sport fish and one of the finest ’tasting’ fish to be pulled from our oceans, Pacific salmon are also an integral part of the forestry system on the West Coast. They are in fact, the lifeblood of the dynamic temperate rainforests found all along the coast of the Pacific Northwest.
Naturalists tend to focus on the Pacific salmon’s impressive oceanic migration routes. Depending on the species, salmon can travel the length of our continent and across the Pacific to the coasts of Russia, Japan and Korea. But the truly impressive swim starts when they return to spawn in the same stream they were born in. With staggering feats of strength, Pacific salmon are able to penetrate 1,000 of kms inland to lay their eggs.
Exhausted from the trip and the spawning process, both the male and female salmon die, their bodies floating to the sides of the streams they fought so hard to return to. Their decaying bodies attract flies and insects that will eventually feed their young. These carcasses are also food for smaller mammals, like rodents and larger mammals such as bears. Bears tend to pull the carcasses away from the river, to eat in peace.
The physical movement of the remains and the eventual discharge in the form of scat and urine, spreads the salmon’s nutrients across the forest. Their deconstructed bodies become fertilizer, providing high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous for all three levels of the rainforest (canopy trees, understory and forest floor). Studies have shown that spruce, cedars and hemlocks grow three times as fast when growing beside a salmon stream. With taller trees comes more shade, increased moisture and greater diversity in plant life.
Because of their importance, salmon are classified as a keystone species. They are integral to the dynamic ecosystem of Haida Gwaii and provide uncountable trophic linkages to thousands of species.
At Escott Sportfishing Lodge, they provide our clients with the most thrilling fishing experience on the west coast. They also taste great on the barbecue. So raise to pint to the salmon, the ‘king of fish’.