THE PACIFIC SALMON 137. The sea Salmon is a fish that lives most of her time in the salt sea, but she always lays her eggs in icy-cold fresh water, in a place far from the sea. In the summer time it is hard to find such a place out of doors, but Mother Salmon knows where to look. There is icy-cold fresh water in little lakes high up in the mountains, where streams flow down from melting snow and glaciers. Some times these lakes are a thousand miles from the sea, so it is a long, hard journey, a thousand miles up the river, to the little ice-cold lake in the mountain. But that is where Mother Salmon has to go to raise her babies.
In the summer a great number (school, we say) of big, fat salmon swim from the Pacific Ocean up into every river on the coast, from San Francisco to the Arctic Ocean. In one river they swim around a certain island near its mouth, and two miles up they cross over to the other side, as carefully as a man driving a wagon would follow the road. In that river they always follow that path. Upstream they go on and on. They swim through rapids. They jump up waterfalls. Some times they fall back and are cut by the rocks. Some are killed. White men catch them; Indians catch them; bears catch them; wild cats, hawks, and eagles catch them. Those that live become thin, but still they swim on! At last, after many weeks, Father and Mother Salmon reach the ice-cold lake. There, after the eggs are laid and the little salmon hatch out, the old salmon die. None of the salmon that swim up to the cold lake ever go back to the ocean.
138. The little salmon go to the sea.— It is the little salmon that go back to the a chance to supply Chicago, New York, and the East, the people of this country bought most of their prunes and raisins from Europe. Now California and Oregon grow such large quantities of these fruits that we export some to Europe.
On the Pacific coast of America as far south of the equator as Los Angeles is north of it we find another fruit district like California. In what country is it? sea. When they are hatched in the ice-cold water, they are no bigger than little pieces of match sticks. They have a rather hard time of it as they work their way down-stream.
A great many of them are eaten by the hungry river fish they meet. Many of them go off into irrigation ditches and perish on the dry ground of the fields. Those that reach the sea, months later, have grown to be about as long as your finger. But in a few years they have become as long as your arm, and then they join the great school and swim back up the river as Mother Salmon did.
139. The Indian smoked salmon.—It is easy to catch the salmon when they come in such bunches. The Indians in Alaska
go out in their canoes and in a short time spear enough to fill a boat. They then dry the fish by smoking them over the campfire, and put them up in a cache (pronounced cash), which is a little wooden house on poles, out of the reach of dogs and wolves. Here they are safe until winter, and the Indians may go off berry-picking and deer-hunting in the late summer and early autumn. The Indians of the interior must have dried salmon for themselves and their dogs. Very often there is nothing else for them to eat.
140. Canned men have learned how . to keep salmon fresh in tin cans. Canned salmon is much better than is the Indians' smoked salmon, which is said to taste like an old shoe. There are large fish-canning factories on the Colum bia River, on smaller rivers in Oregon and Washington, and on the Yukon and other rivers of Alaska and British Columbia. In summer the factories are busy, but they are closed the rest of the year, and often only watchmen remain in winter. On the Ber ing Sea shore of Alaska it is too cold for farms, and in British Columbia and south Alaska there is not room enough for farms. At Juneau and at the mouth of the river Skeena, the shore is so mountainous that there is barely enough level land for build ings to be built. This is no place for many people to live. Therefore, at salmon time, a ship loaded with workers and tin cans sails up to the cannery. For a few weeks after the boat arrives at the cannery, the people are very busy at work preparing the fish and them into the cans. Then the canners sail away with a shipload of fine canned salmon. It is one of the chief products of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, and is sold in most grocery stores in the United States and England.
141. Raising little have learned two very interesting and useful things about salmon. One is that the big fish come back from the sea and go up the stream where they were born. The other thing is that men can now raise salmon as easily as we can raise pigs or chickens. The eggs are taken from the bodies of the big salmon at the canneries and put into jars of ice-cold water, where they hatch. After the little fish are hatched, they are kept in ponds and fed all summer and then let loose to go out to sea, where they will grow big and then come back to be caught. The United States Government runs many, many fish hatcheries, so that the people of the country may have more fish to eat. In the Bureau of Fisheries at Washington, D. C., learned men spend all their time studying the habits of fish. Through this study they learn how to raise more fish.