Published: August 2009

Kamchatka Salmon

Grizzly in water

Where the Salmon Rule

Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula has some of the richest salmon runs in the Pacific, sustaining animals and communities. Now the fish need help.

By David Quammen
Photograph by Randy Olson

The Kamchatka Peninsula, rugged and remote, is a vast blade of land stabbing southwestward through cold seas from the mainland of northeastern Russia. Its coastline is scalloped like the edges of an obsidian dagger. Its highlands rise to cone-shaped volcanic peaks, snow-streaked in summer, and to ridges of bare, gray rock. Its gentler slopes are upholstered in boreal greens. It's a wild place, in which brown bears and Steller's sea-eagles thrive on a diet rich in fatty fish. About 350,000 people inhabit Kamchatka Krai (its label as a governmental region), and they too are highly dependent on fish. In fact, you can't begin to understand Kamchatka without considering one extraordinary genus: Oncorhynchus, encompassing the six species of Pacific salmon.

Continue »
email a friend iconprinter friendly icon   |