Salmon Migrations

Datagami was founded in the Pacific Northwest, where salmon is kind of a big deal. We had a friend visiting from New York a few weeks ago so we took them to the Ballard Locks to watch the boats come through the locks and to look through the fish windows that are provided for viewers to watch the salmon migrate. The locks had a great visualization about salmon migrations that I thought I’d share – a simple reminder that data is everywhere!

The diagram is pretty old and faded but I thought whoever put it together did a great job. Anyone looking at the fish ladder obviously has an interest in salmon. And there are two things we really wanted to know when we were down there – what were the fish we were looking at and when should we come back if we wanted to see more?

It’s fuzzy in the picture but at the top you can see that they used pictures and words to give us a bit of background on the different types of salmon and what they look like. Once we were educated on the different types of fish, they jumped straight into showing us what months to look for them. Easy peasy. So we can see that if you live in the Seattle area now is the optimal time to go look for Coho (silvers) coming through the fish ladder!

When I was in college, a couple of friends and I drove from Texas to Alaska to work in a salmon cannery. I wrote a story about my adventure on a different blog if you’re interested – The Toughest Job. I worked in Prince William Sound where salmon swim 300 miles up the Copper River to their spawning grounds. The Copper River is a fast-moving and very cold river so the salmon build up substantial fat reserves to make the journey – the fat makes the meet denser with a moister texture than other salmon which is why Copper River salmon has a reputation for being the best in the world. I did a little searching for some proof on this and can’t find any interesting visualizations, so if you know of one please share. In the meantime, we will have to assume that if people were willing to pay $50 per pound for the first Copper River King salmon of 2017, there must be something to it!


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