The smell of death from rotting salmon is faint when we leave the car. It grows as new we near the Fish Creek Pond where dead pink salmon carcasses float in the water and dot the trail. I watch Aki to make sure she does not roll in one but she is only interested in the scents left behind by other dogs.
I look out for bears attracted to so much feed, but relax when I notice an absence of bite marks on the dead fish. These ghosts were deposited by the tide, not bears. With Fish Creek full of spawning silvers, kings, and pinks the big carnivores don’t have to settle for these bags of softening meat.
The charnel house has attracted a gang of scavenger birds: gulls, crows, ravens, and eagles. Ravens surround two eagles that have pulled a pink salmon from the creek. One of the eagles flies off along with all but two of the ravens that remain to bracket the remaining eagle like cops waiting for backup. They ignore a small gathering of American widgeons that rest on the opposite side of the stream.
Suddenly, I find the death odor intolerable, not because it is so unpleasant but because it masks the rich smells of this ocean-side wetland: salt and iodine, the musk of fading grasses and deep-red rosehips, and rain about to wash everything clean.