Finny Miracle

by The Old Scot

The salmon is not only one of the most beautiful; (and delicious!) fish in the world, it is also one of the most mysterious.

Salmon are one of the most sought-after prizes fished for all along our Pacific coast. But today, sadly, salmon are diminishing-falling victim not so much to man's fishhooks and nets as to his high dams and the industrial pollution that pours into our rivers.

We are witnessing, literally, the fading away of a miracle. For the things that salmon do instinctively, and have done in their uncounted millions as long as there have been salmon, defy logical explanation.

A strong statement? You be the judge:

Consider that salmon hatch generally in small gravelly streams far upstream from the ocean. Not long after, they begin a journey that will send them ranging far out into the vast Pacific Ocean-a trip that may last as long as four years and cover thousands of miles.

The first unexplainable event takes place when something tells each salmon it is time to return to the stream where it was borntime in its turn to begin the next generation. Scientists speak of "biological clocks" which control the life cycles of many creatures-but the label is not an explanation. Science doesn't know how to explain biological clocks.

The mysterious mating signal comes to each species of salmon in such a way that they all arrive off the coast, ready to head upriver, about the same time. Even though they may approach the river from a hundred different directions, and may have begun their return from fairly near-by ocean waters or far out in the Pacific, nearly every fish of each "run" will arrive at the right time.

In fact, a test count a few years ago showed fifty million sockeye salmon arrived in just one bay along Alaska's shore in a three-week period. Coincidence? Not likely! Instead, it is God's provision for the continuance of their kind. If many of the salmon arrived at the spawning ground either early or late, they would not find a mate. So the Master Designer saw to it that the signal to return would somehow be designed into each fish before it was even an egg.

Then there is the little matter of finding "home." There are no maps for fish, but salmon have something better: They have a sense of smell that certainly borders on the miraculous-they seem to smell their way home.

That "home" smell, composed of a mix of odors from the stream bed, waterline vegetation, submerged logs, and perhaps a hundred other factors, is unique for each spawning bed. But that smell flows downstream into a larger stream, and that into one larger still, and that into a small river, and then into a bigger river, until finally the ocean is reached. And all along the way, that "home" smell is mingled and diluted and rediluted again and again. Then the ocean dilutes it a million times more, and whirls it around in vast currents, together with thousands of other odors.

Still, every salmon can tell unerringly where home is, and will navigate every twist and turn back up the main stem of the right river, and successively smaller branches, until it gets back where it started.

So, you see, deep mysteries lie behind that delicious salmon steak on your plate. God oversaw every detail of that salmon's life cycle-and no doubt He had something to do with it being caught by the fisherman and processed and carried to the store where you purchased it. Is He not the Great Provider? (See, for example, Psalm 104:21-"The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God." If the king of the jungle needs God's help, then surely all God's creatures do, including us.)

Matthew 6:31-32 admonishes us to "take no thought, saying 'What shall we eat?' or What shall we drink?'for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." His earnest desire is for His children to give into His care all the worry (but not the work!) of seeing to our physical needs-because He wants us to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." If we make it our business to do this, our Father will make it His business to see that "all these things shall be added unto you" (v. 33).

So if "all these things" include a salmon steak for your supper, let that remind you of how much trouble God gladly goes to, just to take care of you!


"The Incredible Salmon," Clarence P. Idyll, The National Geographic, Vol. 134, Num. 2, Aug., 1968, p. 202.

Water, the Wonder of Life, Rutherford Platt, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., p. 188.

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