A plea for the Chinook salmon

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 Roland Robert with a Chinook salmon in Chilean Patagonia.Roland Robert with a Chinook salmon in Chilean Patagonia. 

By Roland Robert
Definitely one of the most spectacular salmonids that can be found in the rivers of the world is the Chinook salmon.
The fish that has broken all the records in the great migrations of the aquatic kingdom.
The fish who gives life by traveling and crossing the most dangerous seas of the world to keep his DNA alive.
Isn't it enough the obstacles that nature already provides for five or more years to this fabulous fish? The millions of miles the Chinook must travel non-stop so that an idiot with a stick and a hook will end his life in less than five seconds.
It saddens me that people don't love this fish. They just don't know how important it is to the ecosystem.
1. Before dying the Chinook must spawn. This means a giant supply of food for all the fish that inhabit the river in which this phenomenon occurs. The rainbow trout and browns wait all year for that to happen in order to eat the eggs that the salmon come to deposit at the bottom of the river.
2. The Chinook dies, and the trout eat all those remains of dead salmon and unfertilized eggs. The flora surrounding the river bed is fed by absorbing all the nutrients released by decaying salmon meat.
3. Much of the forest's fauna approaches the river to eat the remains of these fish left adrift.
The Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Photo: WikimediaThe Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Photo: Wikimedia
Just as bears in Alaska wait for salmon to arrive, the same thing happens here with our wildlife in Chile, the fish are there waiting for them.
The Chinook do not eat trout, do not feed in the rivers nor are they looking to attack for pleasure; but they are territorial, they only attack when a trout wants to steal their eggs.
Do you want to point out that this is an introduced species? Well, so are rainbow trout, and brown trout. The only native fish species we have in Chile are perch, peladilla and bagre and today few of these fish remain because the rainbow and brown trout are crowding them out. Don't tell me then about the need to protect native species when the only fish we really care for and protect nowadays are the trout. Why don't we do the same for the Chinook? Why kill him, kick him onto the bank of a river and leave him there half-alive until a vulture pulls out his eyes and it finally dies full of life inside.
I am saddened and feel like crying as I write this, because I can assure you, that if things continues on like this, with the current level of ignorance about this species the Chinook salmon will disappear and we will never again see this wonderful fish in Chilean waters.
I'm 22-years-old. I've been fishing since I was 6 because I've lived my whole life on the banks of a river and lake. It’s because of this fish that I actually began my passion for guiding in the first place. I have been working as a fishing guide since I turned 16-years-old and in just the few years since then I have witnessed first-hand how the numbers of Chinook salmon are decreasing. It is just really sad.
Understand that these fish contribute unimaginably to rivers. They're beautiful. Let's help the Chinook, please.
To my fellow guides and all those fanatics of fly fishing, don’t look away – do something. For the few Chinook salmon that still come up every year, let’s take care of them.
The author, Roland Robert, is a fishing guide based in Puerto Varas, Chile.

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