Chinook or King Salmon: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
The Chinook has always been an important food fish, the average weighing 57.2kg. (126lbs.) and are up to 1.6 meters (4’10”) long. They are found near surface and at mid depths in the Pacific Ocean from Bering Strait to Southern California, most abundant in the Pacific Northwest. These salmon spawn in large rivers, digging holes and burying their bright red eggs in the gravel on the rivers bottom. This painting depicts their growth cycle beginning with the freshwater roe, and following the salmons’ journey down the rivers and streams to the ocean inside the female fish. Painted within the male is the return journey, the males are turning a rose color as they reenter the fresh water, fighting their way up the rivers and streams of their birth to spawn. The Chinook’s life span is anywhere from three to seven years.
Commercial fishing in the past has put this salmon on the endangered list: laws and limits have since been set and are strictly enforced. This is one of the largest and most prized game fish and this popularity with anglers has resulted in wonderful work being done by sport fishers and environmental groups to rehabilitate polluted waterways.
The totem like design within the young fish at the beginning of the circle is to express Nature’s infinite side. The natural course of this life form supports some part of the many life cycles of our eco system; the salmons’ death alone a new beginning, feeding a range of wildlife from microorganisms to mammals to birds. These fauna in turn, fertilize the native vegetation with their salmon rich, waste material, a main factor in sustaining our forests.