The Fish That Go Up Waterfalls

These fish aren’t going down a waterfall. They’re going up! Nothing can stop these big, strong salmon. Not even a waterfall pouring down on them can make them turn back. The water smashes and splashes but the salmon flip, wriggle and twist, finally going up and over the waterfall in great leaps. Even then they don’t stop the rest. They keep on swimming up the river, while the water rushes down on its long way from the mountains to the ocean.

Where are the salmon going? The salmon are swimming up the river to return to the quiet waters where they were hatched. They started far out in the ocean-too far away to see land anywhere. But somehow the salmon find the land. They even find the particular river that they are looking for. Night and day they swim on, almost never stopping to eat or rest.

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The salmon swim past cities and towns and farms and forests. They often have to get away from fisherman…and sometimes from bears. They swim under bridges and around dams and leap over high waterfalls. Finally they reach the waters where they grew up. We don’t know how salmon can find their way on this long trip up the river. But we do know what they do when they get there.

With her tail and snout, the mother salmon digs a long hole at the bottom of the stream. She fills the hole with thousands of tiny eggs-eggs that will hatch into little salmon. She covers the eggs with sand and gravel to hide them and keep them safe. The eggs hatch and the baby salmon grow. When they are about as long as your finger they are big enough to start the dangerous swim to the ocean. They float backward down the long river-tails first and heads last! They seem to steer better that way. On and on they drift and tumble.

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Many of them never reach the ocean. Too many enemies-birds, animals and bigger fish-wait along the way. The salmon that do reach the ocean start growing longer and wider and bigger. Then one day they too start the long, hard trip up the river to the quiet waters where they were hatched.