Good news everyone: it’s almost salmon season! And, even better, this summer a huge wave of pink, or humpback, salmon is coming through the Puget Sound. This upcoming event got me thinking about salmon’s presence in our culture. Though this distinctive fish is nearing dangerously low levels today, it still continues to play an important role — one that it has kept for many, many years.
Salmon have played an important part in Seattle’s history since before recorded history. Fossil evidence shows that salmon have populated the waters of Washington State for over a million years. And, remarkably, they seem to have traveled in similar migration patterns to their contemporary descendants.
Salmon play significant roles in ancient mythologies from all around the world. Irish folklore tells of a Salmon of Wisdom who grants knowledge to those who eat him. Welsh mythology calls salmon the oldest and wisest animal in Britain; one carries two of King Arthur’s knights to rescue a child-prisoner. And Norse mythology tells of Loki transforming himself into a salmon to escape the other gods, until Thor catches him by the tail. Continue reading