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

Spawn: A Perilous Journey

5. It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Salmon?

After using their sense of smell to locate the streams in which they were spawned, salmon begin a transformation that rivals that of any superhero. Their silver color explodes into greens, reds, and purples that help members of the same species identify each other. Males develop a hump and a hooked jaw called a kype. Clearing six-foot waterfalls in a single bound, salmon may travel as far as 2,000 miles upstream. Most adult salmon do not eat once they return to fresh water—their only objective is to spawn.

The female sweeps gravel away with her tail, creating a broad, shallow nest and attracting males who fight for the right to breed. After spawning, the adult salmon die, leaving a new generation developing under the gravel.

Click #1 on the map to restart the journey, or return to Pacific Salmon.

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