The extraordinary life
of a salmon
Every mature female salmon may produce around 4,000 eggs. She lays her eggs and hides them in the sandy gravel on the river’s bed.
A large number of these eggs are scavenged by other fish and birds. The lucky few eggs that remain in the gravel throughout the long, cold winter, mature into “fry.”
When the spring comes, the fry follow the current headed for a freshwater lake, where they will spend one year maturing before heading out to sea.
During their adolescent year in the lake, most of the salmon fry fall victim to predators yet again. Of ever four salmon fry, only one will eventually make it out to sea.
Making it to sea is not the only arduous journey these baby fish will face, however. Once they reach the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the salmon have to continue their journey of growth into full strength and maturity whilst confronting attack from formidable predators, such as whales, leopard sharks, and other fish species.
There exists, also, the threat of being caught by fishing vessels. In four years, salmon will be exposed to countless dangers before growing to their full adult weight of approximately 3kg.
As adults, in response to the call of their “homing instinct,” salmon embark on the perilous return journey to their original birth place.
In early October, all adult salmon gather at the mouth of the Fraser River and head home. The salmon consume nothing as they swim upstream, in an effort to remain light and streamlined.
Whilst moving upstream, often against the current, many salmon can be seen leaping acrobatically into the air and jumping over the water to avoid dangerous fast-flowing currents. Most salmon are “anadromous,” coming from the Greek anadromos, meaning “running upward.”
The salmon sometimes even jump to the shore to avoid falling prey to other animals.
Some of the fish, upon reaching their birthplace, are too exhausted to survive. The female salmon have carried several thousand eggs in their stomach and the eggs die with them.
On average, of the original 4,000 eggs laid by a female salmon, only two adult fish eventually make it back to their natal home to spawn.
Salmon struggle to overcome the fast flowing water currents.
Those who survive, and are strong enough to bury their eggs, pair off and dig depressions in the gravel. After depositing their precious cargo, the salmon have fulfilled their purpose.
Exhausted, their hardship is over. Winter arrives, snow covers the ground and the world is subdued.
In the water below the tranquil ice covering the surface of the river, new life begins.
The life journey of salmon is an adventure involving danger and drama, trial and tribulation. Salmon undergo numerous hardships, hide from countless hazards, and in the last moment of their lives, they struggle one final time to move upstream where their journey will come to an end.
This final hurdle takes place in full view of the human gaze. It gives us cause to contemplate the struggle of the salmon and compare their experience to that of our own lives.
The life purpose of the salmon is clear:
Revealing the meaning
of human life
Looking upon our own lives, we are able to realize that we also have access to meaning: much like the salmon, we must make efforts to achieve the full potential of a human being.
We must grow, and we must mature. We amass experiences by facing challenges in our lives, experience the proverbial ups and downs, and endeavor to become better and better.
Our life’s purpose extends beyond mere survival; we are leaving lessons behind for the next generation.
Perhaps we do not have to pay the high price of our own lives as the salmon do, but the requirements for the fulfillment of our mission are the same: serious and unwavering.
In human life, if careless, people have the propensity to become lazy and characterless. Others refuse to learn from their experiences and may become narrow-minded. Too many people have lost sight of their mission.
Every year, thousands of people gather by the river to watch the salmon on their treacherous journey upstream. Do they consider the relevance of the fishes’ journey to their own lives?
On our life journey, if we keep our sight locked onto our mission, hardship and difficulty can be overcome. We can reach our destination and fulfill our mission at the end of our own extraordinary adventure.