The life story of salmon is a journey of mythical proportions. We know they swim from rivers to seas and return to spawn in the same place where they began. We are learning their quest for survival dates back to the beginning of time. We may find they are among the most successful survivors on earth, so far.
Educator, though country girl at heart, Nina Gee follows a salmon she calls Springer from the beginning to the end of her life, examining every available aspect of the fish’s biology and environment. She chronicles the fish’s descent to the Pacific Ocean through the Salmon and Klamath rivers, imagines her roaming at sea using data gathered from fishermen and scientists. In wetsuit and snorkel Gee swam face to face with returning salmon in a deep water pool admiring their grace and power as they momentarily rested on their arduous journey. She trails Springer’s return to spawn in her natal streambed, where she lays her eggs for a new generation. The salmon’s trials for survival make an amazing drama.
The plight of the salmon is a well publicized crisis of our times. The predicament facing them concerns people around the world. As stewards of our planet, we have a big stake in taking measures to help the salmon, as troubles for salmon raise questions of survival for all species on earth.
Cover and illustrations by award winning artists Kim and Philippe Villard bring art to science and science to their art.
“This is fantastic! I am very impressed with the way the author has taken scientific information about the salmon’s biology and crafted it into a story that is fascinating and entertaining. This is how we can bridge the gap between science and stewardship.” Michael Gray, District Fish Biologist, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Author creates a fish-eye view of survival
The News-Review, Roseburg, OR (12/31/09)
Online at nrtoday.com
This book really began in Trinity County, Calif., in the 1980s. It started when Nina Foran Gee was a schoolteacher and her classroom became part of the Adopt-a-Watershed Program, in which her students were involved in a fish project. The fish raised in the project were released into streams in the mountains to become part of the salmon life cycle.
The author, who now lives in Coos Bay, said her first story about the salmon life cycle was written for teachers and primary schoolchildren and became part of the Klamath River Education Program developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. From that beginning, she was hooked by the cycle and she deepened her study of the salmon life. That research spawned "Springer's Quest," a unique book in which she chronicles the life cycle of one Chinook salmon she names "Springer," depicting it from its birth under the polished pebbles in the streambed of the Salmon River in the Klamath Mountains of Northern California on through its treacherous voyage to the Pacific Ocean.
In this story of quest for survival, the reader almost believes the author became the fish about which she writes. She virtually did.
Using research gathered from fishermen and scientists and her own personal experiences, she is able to imagine this one fish from its birth to its destiny of returning to spawn in the place of its birth.
Gee, in a wetsuit and snorkel, swam face to face with returning salmon in a deep water pool in order to observe the grace and power as the salmon momentarily rest on their arduous return journey to return to spawn in their natal streambed. There she has Springer laying her eggs for a new generation of fish that might be a species 2 to 3 million years old.
Gee has written an amazing drama of the salmon's struggles for survival at a time when this species is in crisis. She believes that as stewards of the planet, we have a stake in taking measures to help the salmon survive.
In short but detailed chapters she writes an exciting story of one fish that lives to spawn, but in doing so faces dangers from creatures of the sea, such as killer whales, hungry sharks and even deadlier enemies, the human species with its nets and hooks baited with tempting herring, a salmon's favorite food source.
Michael Gray, district fish biologists for the Oregon Fish and Wildlife, praised the book, saying:
"I am impressed with the way Gee has taken scientific information about the salmon's biology and crafted it into a story that is fascinating and entertaining."
Gee described "Springer's Quest" as "the life story of a salmon on a journey of mythical proportions. We know they swim from rivers to seas and return to spawn in the same place where they began. We are learning their quest for survival dates back to the beginning of time. We may find they are among the most successful survivors on earth so far."
"Springer's Quest" is a well-crafted story that should be read by every Oregonian, because we are the stewards of the very spawning grounds of this important food resource.
August 26, 2009
Books Section Oregonian Newspaper
Adapting from rivers to oceans, then navigating back to their natal stream to spawn and die, the iconic salmon, one of the oldest species on earth, is subject of my new book Springer's Quest, Life of a Pacific Chinook Salmon, Naturegraph Publishers (www.naturegraph.com). The paperback book is available through book stores, libraries, and online.
This chronicle of the chinook's life cycle and changing environments begins with the hatch in the redd, then follows the fish's descent to the Pacific Ocean through the California Salmon and Klamath Rivers to spend years at sea, and ends with her drive to return to her natal streambed to spawn and die. This story endures as drama, but, it also raises issues about survival for the legendary fish: the species chinook with its startling diverse habitat needs and biological adaptations are threatened today in our environmnent.
We have watched the fish disappear from our shores in such great numbers each year that our commercial seasons are closed and sport fishing curtailed. Scientists warn that global warming, degraded habitat quality, and over-fishing are causing the demise of the fish. We hear such warnings daily in other contexts. Could members of the salmonidae family, among the most successful of all living creatures, who now swim at the edge of extinction over our compromised globe, be bellwethers for all inhabitants of our planet?
"This is fantastic! I am very impressed with the way the author has taken scientific information about the salmon's biology and crafted it into a story that is fascinating and entertaining. This is how we can bridge the gap between science and stewardship."
Michael Gray, District Fish Biologist, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
The book is illustrated by artists Kim and Philippe Villard (www.vsprints.com) working in mixed media graphics. It contains a preface, acknowledgments, glossary, index, bibliography, author and artists' notes.
Nina Foran Gee
Having recently retired from teaching, Gee wrote a 1996 account of the life of fish for the US Fish and Wildlife Service education for primary schools. Here she integrates scientific information into a story for adults illustrating the life cycle of a particular species of salmon from its birth in the northwest rivers to its life in the ocean and return to its birth place to spawn. Among the stages of the trip are swim-up fry, stream predators, a smolt in the estuary, shark strike, trollers, homing, and spawning. Nature illustrators Kim and Philipe Villard debut a new technique of mixed-media graphics.