This video of salmon pushing up the Mad River in California shows the determination of the species to survive and spawn.
There’s so much negative attention given to the low-water conditions of Pacific coast salmon this Fall that good news is hard to come by. The Columbia River has served as an example of how returns continue to thrive in spite of those low-water conditions.
Further south, the Mad River is experiencing the same obstacles to fish passage, as well as fishing opportunities. However, California State fish biologists counted 500 Chinook Salmon going up the shallow riffle at the Highway 101 bridge in Humboldt County in one hour. That’s 8.3 salmon per minute.
The video was shot by state biologist Susan Leroy, roughly six river miles up the river from the ocean on October 14, 2015. The scene was shot at high tide when the water level had backed up into the riffle, allowing space for a deep pool full of fish staging below to push upriver.
Although the environmental challenges and low-water conditions are relevant concerns, watching these fish push upstream shows their determination to complete the continuation of their species.
With their backs out of the water, the fish scurry about through the shallow riffle, shooting off in all different directions before calibrating their paths upstream. Seeing them splash and send wake through the riffle provides a view of just how fast they can really move.
Adult salmon are said to travel up to 20 miles a day while pushing upriver to reach their spawning grounds.
With the frustration of many rivers shutting down due to poor returns or poor conditions for fish passage, it’s relieving to see these Humbolt County salmon enter their home river to finish the job of carrying on their legacy.