National Geographic : 2009 Aug
EDITOR'S NOTE PHOTO: CHRIS JOHNS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC STOCK Sockeye salmon shoot up the rapids and flip in midair. I see their mirror-bright sides catch and scatter the sun. Propelled by instinct, they return to their birthplace to spawn. Commercial fishermen caught 90 percent of these fish's mates even before the salmon began their odyssey up British Columbia's Fraser River. The ones left have beaten the odds so far. But their journey isn't over, as I found out many years ago on an early assignment for the Geographic. I watch as 13-year-old Gordon Alec (above), of the Lillooet tribe, dips his net in the rapids and pirouettes to his left with a captured fish. The ritual of netting salmon is Gordon's ancestral legacy. Drying racks line the Fraser's banks. Young and old camp out under the summer sky and celebrate the catch. But regret is expressed too, as elders recount how diminished the run has become in their lifetime. This month, writer David Quammen and photographer Randy Olson take us to Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. Salmon runs are still huge and healthy there. It's a rugged landscape, where at least 20 percent of all Pacific wild salmon go to spawn. "Salmon heaven," Quammen calls it. But this salmon heaven is threatened. It's the same story many fisheries face. The direction this narrative takes--- whether someday Kamchatka's salmon runs will be spoken of with regret---will be determined by management deci- sions made in the next few decades. "At present," says Quammen, "the situation is fluid." Inspiring people to care about the planet NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD Gilbert M. Grosvenor PRESIDENT AND CEO John M. Fahey, Jr. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC GLOBAL MEDIA PRESIDENT Timothy T. Kelly PUBLISHING GROUP PRESIDENT John Q. Griffin NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE EDITOR IN CHIEF Chris Johns MANAGING EDITOR Victoria Pope EXECUTIVE EDITORS: Tim Appenzeller, Dennis R. 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