Walking where yesterday we saw a whale, Aki and I watch charter boats trolling for king salmon near the mouth of Gastineau Channel. Most will catch nothing. Aki doesn’t really notice the boats. She is too busy sniffing and peeing. When I share out loud my thoughts about the fate of king salmon she ignores my words. But I fool myself into believing that she is listening when I ask if king salmon might be serving the same role for the rain forest as a canary does in a coalmine.
More susceptible than men to methane gas, the canaries inform miners of the gas’ presence by dying. The king salmon, who postpones its return to their spawning waters longer than any other Pacific salmon, is the most susceptible to negative changes in the ocean. When, as happened this year, they return in low numbers to their home streams, like the nearby Taku River, we should be alarmed into action.