What YOU Can Do:
Care for Nature. Purchase sustainably sourced foods.
–1Frame4Nature is a collection of images and stories from around the globe of your personal connection to nature. However small, when combined with the actions of others, your individual actions can impact real and tangible outcomes for the preservation of our planet. Submit your story now!
iLCP Fellow Amy Gulick’s 1Frame4Nature:
Crouched on a rock near a churning waterfall, I’m entranced by thousands of salmon. Fin to fin, tail to tail, they sway against the current as one giant mob, like concert groupies in a mosh pit. One fish springs from the crowded stream, hurling itself against the foaming wall of water. And then another, and another. Fish after fish, leap after leap, so much energy expended, so much energy delivered. The long green arms of Sitka spruce and hemlock trees spread across the stream as if to welcome the salmon back into their forested fold. Click, click goes my camera in a frenzied attempt to freeze an airborne fish in my frame. Hours vaporize, like the mist rising into the forest from the spray of the waterfall. But for the salmon every minute is precious because their time is coming to an end. They’re in their final act – spawning – and they won’t stop pushing upstream until they die. Click, click – lots of empty frames. I need to concentrate, but the distractions are many. The harpy screams of ravens emanate from the forest. Bald eagles swoop from treetops to rock tops, eyeballing the feast before them. Bears march into the stream with purpose. They know I’m here, but they are focused on the fish. With one eye pressed against the viewfinder, and one eye open for bears, I attempt to focus on anything but instead just bask in the present. It’s like I’m swirling in the middle of a wild performance with throbbing music, leaping dancers, and flashing lights. I have a front row seat to one of the greatest shows on Earth, one that plays out every year all over the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
A few days before, there wasn’t a single salmon in this stream. In a few weeks, the only visible evidence of what took place here will be spawned-out carcasses littering the streambanks. The cleanup crews of birds, otters, and mink will scour the remains. Heavy fall rains will wash the fish bones out to sea, and bears will curl up in their dens as snow dusts the mountaintops. The show will be over, but the annual payout is rich. Bald eagles, fueled by salmon, will soar greater distances to find food during winter. Female bears, padded with fat reserves, will give birth in their dens and nurse their tiny cubs with salmon-enriched milk. The forest, fertilized with supercharged soil from decayed fish, will sprout new growth come spring. And the next generation of salmon is swaddled in the streams and incubated by the forest. The fertilized eggs will soon hatch, ensuring that the cycle of life is a circle, always flowing, never broken. What goes around comes around.
Call to Action: Caring for Nature. I eat sustainably-managed wild salmon, and do not eat farmed salmon. If demand for wild salmon is strong, then there is an incentive to conserve healthy oceans, rivers, and forests that salmon, bears, eagles — and we — need to thrive.
Amy Gulick is a founding fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. Her award-winning book, Salmon in the Trees: Life in Alaska’s Tongass Rain Forest, documents the importance of the Alaska rain forest to both wild and human communities. See www.amygulick.com.
Amy teamed up with Alaska Wilderness League to help bring together this story.
This article is brought to you by the 1Frame4Nature Campaign. Share a picture and story on Instagram with the hashtag #1Frame4Nature, of your personal connection to nature and tell us what action you’ve taken on behalf of our planet.