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The Sockeye and Cyanide

by Steve Maher
Spring 2007

Brown bears wait patiently along the banks of the major rivers of southwestern Alaska. They have fished these waters for eons, generation after generation following in the steps of their ancestors. The peninsula here is mostly treeless, with a few scrubby spruce, alder and birch, the tundra giving way to silty, shallow rivers, miles wide, along its shore and cloud-shrouded volcanoes at its crest.

This stark, often dreary locale is witness to an incredible spectacle each summer as millions of sockeye salmon return to spawn, filling the rivers with nutrients and protein and feeding the water and critters that depend on them.

About the Author
Steve Maher is a commercial fisherman who maintains no permanent residence but divides his time between Washington, Florida, North Carolina and the Bering Sea.