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Salmon Trek is still a mystery

Every year a great natural spectacle starts unfolding in the ocean along the west coast of North America. After having spent four or five years at sea, all kinds of salmon species return to their place of birth in the various different rivers. From the moment the salmon enter the river mouth, they cease to eat and survive solely on their fat reserves. The salmon have only one goal: to go upstream, to return to the place where they were born, to spawn there and then to die.

1-Life cycle

This so-called Salmon Run, in which half a billion salmon are thought to participate, is a particularly arduous undertaking in such a long river as the Fraser with its strong currents.

Not only do the fish have to survive rapids and waterfalls, in shallow stretches of the river they also come face-to-face with hungry bears and birds of prey.

The strongest of the salmon species is the Chinook, which usually manages to progress furthest in the direction of the river source.

The life-cycle of wild salmon

3-Chinook2-Fishing Indian

   The Chinook is the strongest of the five salmon species

For generations the Indians of British Columbia relied heavily on salmon fishing in their daily struggle to survive

For biologists it is still a mystery how salmon manage to find their way back to their place of birth (where they will subsequently spawn) with such precision. Most recent findings point in the direction of iron particles in the brains of salmon, which combine to create a kind of compass that helps them to navigate precisely.

4-Happende beer

Hungry bears often wait for the salmon near waterfalls and rapids


The BBC documentary The Great Salmon Run provides in-depth information about the miracle of the salmon trek. Narrated by David Attenborough, the documentary contains spectacular footage and also shows how important salmon are for the entire ecological system. 

(NOTE: Inhabitants of some countries might have a problem watching this video because of the copyrights)

Fraser River reports