Friday, July 2, 2010

Snake River Salmon: An Epic Migration

Little Redfish Lake ©Neil Ever Osborne, iLCP

Save Our Wild Salmon and the
International League of Conservation Photographers have joined forces to tell the story of the Snake River's one of a kind salmon and the place they call home.

Snake River sockeye make an epic migration each year to Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Valley, climbing nearly 7,000 feet and swimming more than 900 miles to get there. To get a visual — that’s the distance from Denver to Chicago and higher than five Empire State Buildings stacked one on top of another.

In addition, these red fish tackle an eight-dam gauntlet on the Columbia and Lower Snake Rivers. The tenacity and determination of these fish is undeniable and at times unbelievable. It's no wonder that they are often referred to as the lifeblood of the Northwest's signature rivers.

©Neil Ever Osborne, iLCP

Yesterday, we hit up Dagger Falls on a late afternoon shoot, where Snake River chinook were jumping up the falls. It's endlessly inspiring to watch these fish launch themselves up a mass of churning whitewater over and over until they disappear through the current.

"Perched precariously on a rock with Dagger Falls whitewater below, I encountered for the first time the largest of the salmon species, the chinook salmon, demonstrating endurance and perseverance like no other animal. I now plan to help this story."

Neil Osborne perched over Dagger Falls. ©Emily Nuchols

The trip was a first for iLCP photographer Neil Osborne and Idaho Rivers United's Greg Stahl and I watched him from the bank. He would turn to us often, wide-eyed and grinning. And with every leaping fish and click of the shutter, it was clear that these iconic fish had found a new ally.

From watching Neil's encounter yesterday, I have to believe that if more people took a moment to watch these fish fight so hard to survive that they'd be encouraged to act. And that's exactly why we're here — to bring this epic migration home.

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