North-South-East-West: American Indians and the Natural World

Spawn: A Perilous Journey

3. From Smolt to Shining Sea

When the parr are ready to leave freshwater and migrate to the sea, they undergo a special process called smolting, and are then called smolts. Their bodies turn silver and complete a series of physical changes that prepare them for the transition from freshwater to saltwater.

Predators, turbine blades, and dams are among the dangers that await along the path to the sea. The smolts swim at night and hide during the day. For several weeks or months, the smolts stay in freshwater bays where the river meets the ocean. Eating tiny shrimp, other crustaceans, and the young of other saltwater fish, they grow very quickly before disappearing into the ocean.

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