A University of Toronto study has found the environmental DNA of pathogens harmful to fish are 2.7 times more likely to be detected near active salmon farms versus inactive sites. (Kenny Regan photo)

Clements: The salmon just keep swimming

When life’s fights seem too impossible to win, think of the perseverance of these fish

By David Clements

Often, when I watch the rain out my window or listen to it pour down on my rooftop in the night this time of year, my mind turns to the salmon that are reveling in the rain.

For the salmon, the rain means higher water levels enabling them to traverse parts of our local streams that become inaccessible during the dry months of late summer.

What really spurs them on is the tantalizing scent of their home stream, where they were born.

Like a child intent on a cookie, the salmon are obsessed with their goal and little will stop them.

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The cookie jar has to be pretty out of reach for the salmon not to make it, especially for our rugged coho salmon that often spawn in very small ditches.

Speaking of seeing salmon, don’t let the fall pass you by without a look for these intrepid fish in our local streams.During a recent morning, I sought the salmon out in Williams Park, in the Salmon River watershed.

Sure enough, the brilliant red coho were there, fighting their way upstream to their birthplace to spawn and keep the circle of life going before their exhausted bodies wore out completely.

They were quite a sight, nose pointed upstream, stopping for a while, and then pushing themselves against the current, occasionally splashing in the shallow waters.

These coho had spent one or two years in their natal stream before heading to the ocean, and had somehow survived the gauntlet of hazards encountered in the sea, and everywhere in between.

They had left minnow-sized and returned nearly two-feet long and packed with current-fighting muscles.

Surely, these rugged creatures are an inspiration to us as we often find ourselves tiredly swimming upstream, and tempted to lay back and let the current pull us away from our goals.

When that happens to you, think of the salmon, and just keep swimming!

David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology and environmental studies at Trinity Western University. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

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