|Photo by Gerald Schömbs on Unsplash
Welcome back, this alphabet posts are coming along nicely, don't you think? Yesterday we built Rome in a Day, I mean, we accepted that it wasn't actually built in a day.
Today's letter is S, and I chose it stands for
Swim with the Sharks
There are other sayings that represent the same meaning:
- If you can't beat them - join them
- Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass - It's about learning to dance in the rain.
Let me start by saying that sharks (and airplanes) have a bad reputation – which is unfair.
Statistically, driving a car is far deadlier than flying. Still, people drive every day without giving it any thought.
It's hard to find reliable and comparable statistics. According to Wikipedia, between 1958 and 2020 there have been 439 fatal shark attacks worldwide, 36 of them in the USA.
The Washington Post put together a nice graphic telling us that in the U.S. 58 people are being killed by bees, wasps and hornets every year. Multiplying by the 62 years it took for sharks to finish off the 36 Americans, that's 3,596 deadly insect stings.
Don’t even get me started on motor vehicle accidents (2.7 million in 62 years).
Let's not forget heart disease. 655k Americans pass away from cardiovascular disease every single year. Again, taking our 62 year period - that's 40 million people gone.
There's another saying related to swimming:
Swim with (or against) the tide - and swimming against the tide of course means to swim uphill.
Who would actually make this huge effort, you may ask?
Salmon - that's who. They are born in freshwater streams and rivers, and live their adult lives in the ocean.
After spending 2-7 years in saltwater, they are mature and ready for the final and most difficult journey of their lives.
In the fall, mature salmon return from the ocean to the stream of their birth to lay eggs in the same spot where they were born.
To accomplish this, they must swim upstream against the current or flow of the stream. They typically travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles, at a speed of 18 miles a day - just imagine! Swimming upstream!
I mean - our parents thought they had it rough. After all they had to walk to school uphill, both ways!
How do the salmon know where to go?
Scientists believe salmon use a combination of a magnetic and celestial orientation and the memory of their home stream's unique smell - obviously salmon can detect one drop of water from its home stream mixed up in 250 gallons of sea water.
In the course of this journey they eat nothing, using the energy they stored while they were in the ocean. Finally, those who survive, reach the river where they were born years earlier.
Salmon are all bright silver while in the ocean environment, however when the they return to freshwater to spawn, they undergo many physiological and morphological changes. First they must switch from using saltwater to freshwater. Returning to freshwater, they change body color from a silver to a brown, green or red depending on the species, Sockeye, Chum, Pink, Coho or Chinook being the most popular ones.
The female digs a hole in the gravel with her tail and lays a few thousand eggs in the hole that will be fertilised by the male fish. Eventually, after 12 - 20 weeks, an average of three new baby salmon hatch out of these eggs.