A LAST WILD SALMON..... A Film by Watervisions
Sockeye, Chinook, Pink, Chum and Coho. All species of salmon from the Pacific Northwest, descendants of the primordial salmon of over a million years ago which lived in the streams of the Rocky Mountains. As ages of ice froze and refroze the inland waters, that ancient fish fled to the ocean for most of its life. But Nature dictated that she and all her generations should return to their natal stream-to breed, commit their genes to eternity, and then die.
This documentary follows the life of one such salmon, underwater all the way, as it survives against impossible odds, battling natural and human forces. The film begins with one of Nature's most astonishing performances - the ancient spawning ritual - and follows each step of development in the salmon's life.
The struggle begins when only half of all the eggs laid actually hatch. Then follows three months of helplessness and hiding in the egg sac, when only one in four will survive - to be mysteriously imprinted with the exact section of the precise river of its birth. As salmon fry they learn that there is safety in numbers; that they should eat voraciously; that only the fittest will survive.
In early summer the young salmon revel in the newfound freedoms of larger waters, travelling in schools of hundreds, even thousands, catching whiffs of the salt water that will become an addiction for them. Nature continues to winnow the weak and unwary.
Foraging with the tide, by late August they have transformed into sea-leaping salmon who cover up to 80 km a day as they swim the fantastic coasts of British Columbia and Alaska, along the Aleutians towards Russia and Japan, looping back across the ocean to the coast-a circuit they will repeat over several years. They become powerful, graceful athletes and their rich, oily flesh lures the sharks, barracudas and killer whales.
As hormones of maturity flow, a new imperative cuts into the salmons' brains: head for home! The scent of their natal stream is like a compulsive drug and they drive toward it, bodies arched, tails churnin - animated crimson arrows fired by some inner force. The journey exacts a heavy toll and sets in motion a remarkable transformation. Their silver bodies turn crimson, their heads a pea green; the male has added a grotesque hump on its back and a sharply-hooked snout to better fend off other males. When spawning is complete, so too is the life cycle of the salmon. Within days the crimson mates waste away, their battered bodies grey in death.
A Last Wild Salmon portrays the life, the truth, of a Pacific Northwest salmon as accurately as possible. It features a run of salmon which has become extinct. Literally thousands of streams which bore salmon just a hundred years ago, no longer do so. While man is part of the gauntlet Nature planned for the salmon, today our numbers-and our greed-are compromising their very survival.
Even as people work to regenerate lost runs, we do it with fish whose genetics are far less varied than those which were lost-far more susceptible to disease and the threat of extinction.
Try as we might, we cannot refashion the diversity of Nature.
What we can, and must do is our level, enlightened best to preserve the salmon we have left, and all they mean to us. Salmon are beliweathers of a healthy environment in which we, too, survive. As go the salmon, so, ultimately, may go we.
If you want a DVD or Video copy of "A Last Wild Salmon", please contact: Pauline@watervisions.com
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