I love new experiences and today was definitely a new experience. A group of us went salmon watching in Port Hope in Ontario. It’s about an hour drive east from Markham and I’m glad that we headed out the door early in the morning. It was pouring rain when we left on our mini road trip and a few of us were concerned that there would be thunderstorms and we wouldn’t be able to safely get out to watch the salmon run. Fortunately, as we drove closer to the Ganaraska River fishway where the salmon were, the rain subsided and the sun came out from behind the clouds to provide us with a beautiful and breezy summer morning. ^_^
I’ve never watched salmon swimming upstream before in a natural environment and was excited to see what it was all about. I didn’t have very high expectations of it because I didn’t think watching fish would be so exciting. However, I’m so, so glad that I got to see this! (For those wondering where it is, it is at the Ganaraska River in Port Hope at the fish ladder on Cavan St.)
I first learned about salmon migration from the childhood show, Magic School Bus, where it taught us that salmon will migrate and swim many many kilometres from the ocean where they reside and back to the place where they were born in the small streams in order to lay eggs for their next generation. Then they take the journey back to the ocean or die during the process. It’s such a sacrifice but also a worthy one so that the little ones can have a chance to be born and grow up in the small streams before getting bigger in the ocean.
When we approached the stream, we saw hundreds and hundreds of salmon swimming in the stream. They were all headed toward the tall dam where water was rushing downwards. Dozens of big salmon were seen jumping out of the water and trying to get up to the other side. There was a big, tall dam and also a smaller one to the left-hand side. We noticed that all the salmon who actually succeeded in getting to the other side used the small chute to the side where the water wasn’t as high or fast. It was so incredible to see these fish swim aggressively and fight to get to the other side.
It actually made me a bit sad to see them not succeed — whenever they jumped into the air and hit themselves on the wall. 😦 It really gives me a sense of how nature is unforgiving. You have to be physically strong and have a strong sense of purpose and direction in order to succeed. In this case, if you lack those qualities, you don’t end up passing on your genes to the next generation and you eventually perish in the water. There’s something about watching all these salmon try to jump to the other side that really made me understand furthermore that life is all about challenges and it’s up to you to overcome them by working hard. We came up with a lot of analogies from watching these salmon in their journey. =) (It also makes you realize that everything in life comes from hard work, effort, and perseverance. Without this, if you were like some of the salmon who were swimming just casually in the water and not even attempting to jump the dam, you would be stuck in the same place and die.)
It was ironic because after we watched these salmon struggle to give life, we went out to eat all-you-can-eat sushi and had salmon and sashimi. >.<