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The following is an article that I wrote for Ocean Realm magazine (March/April 1996 issue) about the link that salmon provide between freshwater and marine ecosystems.

At the end of the run

A small, unassuming krill drifts idly in the north Pacific Ocean along with thousands of its kind. Without warning, dozens of silvery shapes appear from out of the darkness and tear into the school of shrimp-like plankton with abandon. During the ensuing melee, the unlucky krill is swallowed whole by a salmon that is beginning its homeward migration. At that moment, the constituent elements that comprise the krill begin a journey, one which extends far beyond the terminus of the salmon's digestive tract. In due course, migrating salmon will consume and digest millions of krill and other oceanic organisms, their nutrients becoming incorporated into the fish's tissues. These nutrients will then be transported from the ocean into freshwater as the salmon return to spawn and die in the streams from whence they originally came. Each fall is thus heralded by an influx of salmon, coursing through stream networks that are akin to the arteries of a great (yet fragile) organism, and providing a life-giving transfusion of nutrients to freshwater ecosystems.

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Backcopies of Ocean Realm (including the above issue) can be obtained from Ocean Realm, 4067 Broadway, San Antonio, Texas 78209. 1 800 820-3522

I have also written an article that was translated into Spanish for the magazine Mundo Marino (July/August 1997 issue). This article was about the occurrence and evolution of migrations between fresh water and the ocean.

To sea or not to sea?

Why would a Pacific salmon that hatched in the gravel of a northern Canadian river undertake a 2,800 km downstream migration fraught with peril only to make the arduous return trip four years later? Why would an eel born in the mid-Atlantic Ocean migrate 5,000 km to Iceland, ascend a river and remain there for 20 years, and then migrate all the way back to the Sargasso Sea for spawning? A large part of the answer to these questions, and of understanding the general phenomenon of migration between the ocean and freshwater, lies in the separation of the best places for feeding from the best places for reproduction.

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