Grand coulee dam

Born to be wild: the plight of salmon worldwide

In the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans paint images of salmon on to stones. They say that if you rub those stones you will acquire the fish’s two great qualities: determination and energy. Not so long ago these communities’ diets consisted of more than 80 per cent salmon, and they believed it to be a wondrous thing that the migratory fish returned on the same week every year. They also believed they ‘owed the salmon respect and gratitude’ — and if they failed in this they might stop coming back. In the 19th and 20th centuries their fears were realised. But it wasn’t Native Americans who were disrespectful to the once