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King of the Fish

This Christmas some of you may have the good fortune, and delight, to sit down and enjoy salmon as part of your festive celebrations, but how many know of the salmon’s remarkable story? Herewith, some facts as a conversation starter around the dinning table.

Atlantic salmon are incredible fish that migrate thousands of miles during their lifetime. Their life cycle is among the most unique life cycles in the natural world. The Atlantic salmon is anadromous, meaning it spends its adolescence years in freshwater before migrating to sea to reach maturity. Long ago the salmon evolved to take advantage of the abundance of food at sea, while retaining the ability to survive in freshwater rivers and a relatively safe place to reproduce. During its ocean wonderings, it may swim a staggering 2,500 miles visiting distant, frigid waters off Greenland and the Norwegian Sea where it gorges on a feast of capelin, sand eels, small fish and shrimp growing at a rate that is almost unparalleled in the world of fish.

They are only found in the cleanest streams and rivers, mostly in the north and west. I don’t think I am alone in appreciating its athleticism; famously forging upstream to clear seemingly insurmountable obstacles, from waterfalls to weirs. It captures our imaginations during its epic journey back to its natal river or stream to spawn and begin another life cycle. The gravelly-bottomed headwaters are where the females create shallow depressions, known as ‘redds’, where they can lay 1600 eggs or 22% of their body weight. Simultaneously the males release sperm to fertilise the eggs.

At the end of this odyssey they die; a seemingly tragic fate after all that effort, until you stop to consider that their decomposing bodies, grown fat on the richness of the sea, are now returning vital nutrients to the nursery streams and rivers, so essential to nourish the next generation of salmon.

To witness a salmon making herculean leaps to get back to its birth place is a marvel of the natural world, to photograph the event is at best challenging, although enormous fun and immensely satisfying when it all comes together.

Have a wonderful Christmas, wherever you are, and enjoy a rewarding and healthy New Year, from all at NatureFrame.

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