Salmon: Running the Gauntlet

About

The Columbia River Basin once teemed with young salmon heading toward the ocean and mature salmon returning to their home rivers and streams to spawn. Now, many salmon species of the Pacific Northwest are extinct, and thirteen, including the iconic sockeye salmon, are currently endangered. When European Americans arrived in the area 150 years ago, the subsequent growth and change in population severely affected the ecosystems. Overfishing, habitat destruction, and dam construction contributed to salmon’s decline, which led, in the late-nineteenth century, to a new government-sanctioned industry created to restore dwindling salmon populations: hatcheries. Today, salmon hatcheries provide controlled environments where early developmental stages of the salmon lifecycle are replicated within the confines of concrete walls; eggs are artificially fertilized and incubated in tubes and plastic bags, and young salmon are raised in tanks before being released into the wild.

Regrettably, however, those very systems set up with the intention of saving salmon are contributing to the species’ devastating decline. The hatcheries’ controlled environment strips salmon of the genetic diversity and natural instinct critical for their survival in the wild. Once released into open rivers and streams, these populations of fish are vulnerable to a variety of challenges they are unprepared to meet. Though ambitious efforts have been made to monitor and assist hatchery salmon in the wild – from barge and truck transportation around dams, to predator relocation programs – the results of those efforts have been essentially unsuccessful.

Salmon are an integral part of the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest. Returning to their spawning grounds, they bring with them nutrient-rich marine nitrogen from the ocean. During their run, they feed all manner of wildlife, including bears and eagles, and they subsequently fertilize the surrounding forests. After they die, their bodies feed countless microorganisms, which in turn feed salmon hatchlings. It remains to be seen if the various efforts of legislators, biologists, engineers, and conservationists can restore salmon numbers, and in the process, restore the vital role salmon play in the health of the land, and in the lives of the animals and people that depend on them.

Production Credit Print

NARRATED BY
JAY O. SANDERS

PRODUCED BY
JIM NORTON
ROB WHITTLESEY

STORY BY
JIM NORTON

WRITERS
ROB WHITTLESEY
JIM NORTON

SUPERVISING PRODUCER
MARK SHELLEY

EDITOR
ROB WHITTLESEY

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
MARK SHELLEY

ORIGINAL MUSIC
MARK ADLER

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
HANNAH WALKER

ADDITIONAL CINEMATOGRAPHY
BOB POOLE
HARRY DAWSON

PRODUCTION ASSISTANTS
BLAISE DUROS
CHRISTINE MALLIA

SOUND RECORDISTS
SPENCE PALERMO
LARRY JOHNSON
TYLER B. STEPHENS

PRODUCTION MANAGER
BROOK HOLSTON

ASSISTANT EDITOR
PHILLIP POWELL

ANIMATIONS
ANDY MURDOCK
LOTS OF ROBOTS, INC

ONLINE EDITOR
RI CRAWFORD

SOUND DESIGN
BRIAN BEATRICE

RE-RECORDING MIXER
BRIAN BEATRICE

COLOR GRADING
LEO HALLAL

HI-DEFINITION POST PRODUCTION
ZAP-ZOETROPE AUBRY PRODUCTIONS

PRODUCTION ACCOUNTANT
SHEILA TAYLOR

STOCK FOOTAGE/STILLS
Alaska Video Postcards, Inc.
Always HD
Bjornen and Isaac Babcock
Columbia River Maritime Museum
Mark Emery
FISHBIO
FootageBank HD
Freshwaters Illustrated
Grants Pass Daily Courier
Greenfire Productions
Grizzly Creek Films
HD/Environments / Footage Search
Katmai National Park, U.S. National Park Service
Mammoth HD
Andy Maser
McCord Museum, Montreal
NHNZ / Footage Search
Oregon State University Archives
Photolibrary / Oxford Scientific Films
Pond 5
Portland General Electric
Printroom
Twyla Roscovich
David Rice / Footage Search
Hannah Smith Walker
Thought Equity Motion / National Geographic Digital Motion
United States Bureau of Reclamation
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Kennan Ward / Footage Search
Norbert Wu / Footage Search
Daniel Zatz / Footage Search

SPECIAL THANKS
Shari Sant Plummer, Code Blue
Bert Bowler, Snake River Salmon Solutions
Bird Research Northwest
Bonneville Power Administration
Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission
Fishhawk Fisheries
Charles Hudson
Bob Hunter, Waterwatch
Idaho Adventures
Idaho Fish and Game
Indian Creek Guest Ranch
Jim Lichatowich
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Jeff Oveson, Grand Ronde Model Watershed
Sarah Thompson
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Portland District
U.S. Army Public Affairs, Western Region
Wallace Fish Station
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

FOR NATURE

SERIES EDITOR
JANET HESS

SUPERVISING PRODUCER
JANICE YOUNG

SENIOR PRODUCER
LAURA METZGER

PRODUCER
IRENE TEJARATCHI HESS

PRODUCTION MANAGER
JULIE SCHAPIRO THORMAN

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT
JAYNE JUN

RE-RECORDING MIXER
ED CAMPBELL

HD ONLINE EDITOR
PATRICK KRASS

OFFLINE EDITOR
IRENE TEJARATCHI HESS

SERIES PRODUCER
BILL MURPHY

EXECUTIVE IN CHARGE
WILLIAM GRANT

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
FRED KAUFMAN

A Production of Sea Studios Foundation and THIRTEEN in association with WNET New York Public Media and National Geographic Channel

This program was produced by THIRTEEN, which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2011 WNET
All rights reserved

WEB CREDITS

PRODUCER
KATE FULTON

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
CHIE WITT

PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE
SAM CHUNG
PIYALI SYAM

DESIGNER
JOY WEEENG

PAGEBUILDING
BRIAN SANTALONE

TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
BRIAN LEE

CREATIVE DIRECTOR
NICK MILLER

DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL STRATEGY
DAVID HIRMES

SENIOR DIRECTOR
DANIEL B. GREENBERG

WRITERS
SAM CHUNG
PIYALI SYAM