Thursday, October 30, 2003

My friend Louise Loik had a piece published in the Globe and Mail today about rescuing salmon which jump out of the fish ladder at Killarney Creek, a hald mile down the road. Here story is hilarious and touching:

Salmon that can leap tall waterfalls, can also throw themselves over the side walls of the fish ladder. The evidence is before us. A salmon that, incredibly, has made it along the ladder to just below the last waterfall, has landed on dry earth. It flaps with futility. There's no way to get back into the water. My children plead for my help.

I consider my options. I look at my daughters. I look at the large fighting fish, and then at the nearly vertical slippery trail leading to the top of the waterfall where the salmon must go to complete its life's mission. The girls watch me in a big-eyed slow-blinking way. I can't just toss the fish back inside the ladder to have it just jump back out again.

I attempt to grab the salmon. This fish is the size of a cat and, like a wildcat, it is now fighting for its life. Salmon, unlike fluffy cats, are torpedo-shaped, and happen to be covered in slime.

Undeterred, I keep trying. The creature responds by slapping me in the face, leaving a fishy mucous on my cheek. My kids have now lost their look of grief and desperation. Overcome by laughter, the girls are flapping about on the ground like goldfish out of their tank. What am I to do?

Somehow, I wind up with a huge fish waging a battle for its life inside my jacket while I attempt to rush it to the water. I jam my elbows into the sides of the embankment to try to get up past the waterfall. We get to the height of the waterfall and must dash across the street to get to the headwater. Drivers stare in disbelief as I run across the road to release the writhing mass to its home. There's a splash and the beautiful Chinook immediately swims behind a rock and releases her eggs.

The whole story is well worth the read.

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