Hi everyone well we have fresh snow on the ground here on the Kenai and though I am reluctant to say the 2019 fishing season on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers is over it certainly is winding down fast! However we are still catching a few late run Silver Salmon and some nice Rainbow Trout. Anyway with halloween fast approaching I wanted to post this recent article from Alaska department of Fish and Game titled Zombie Fish!
Zombie Fish: How dying salmon bring life to the river
With the cultural craze of zombies dragging themselves through various video games, across the silver screen and right through our collective consciousness, it’s time we explore the aquatic equivalent.
Are you aware that there are zombies currently wandering Alaska’s rivers, lakes and estuaries? Now before you grab your survival bag and make tracks for your remote cabin to wait out the zombie apocalypse, let us elaborate on the benefit of these particular zombies.
No need to panic here, the zombies of which we speak are simply post-spawn salmon that are slowly succumbing to the inevitable decay that characterizes their final days. They can be seen lazily meandering through the waters of Alaska in the late summer and fall, looking ragged and collecting swatches of fungus along their blushed flanks as they slowly perish. This specific life history quirk can illicit thoughts of sympathy or remorse, but do not despair, the zombies in our waters help to perform a vital function for our watersheds and their inhabitants.
Zombie salmon that have successfully spawned have one more trick up their sleeve to ensure that the habitat in which they were born and to which they returned stays optimal for future generations. The process is called nutrient transport and it’s a dying salmon’s parting gift to aquatic plants as well as the next generation of fish and invertebrates that sustain life in Alaska’s freshwater environments.
Salmon growing and feeding in the ocean accumulate marine nutrients that don’t originate in the freshwater environment and bring them along in their body tissue as they migrate to their spawning grounds. Once the post-spawn salmon finally come to rest and begin to decompose, they deposit their collected marine nutrients into the water and soil of their natal streams. This serves to enhance the habitat and enrich the food web that will support their offspring upon emerging from the gravel.
So if you’re ever out on Alaska’s lakes, rivers and bays in the fall, keep an eye out for the noble salmonid zombies that are seeking their final resting places. These zombies need not be dispatched in defense of your life and property, rather you ought to tip your hat and wish them well as they fulfill their final mission, which has nothing to do with eating brains.