Every year, king salmon swim 2,000 miles up the Yukon river from the Bering Sea to McNeil Lake in Canada to spawn. For centuries, their journey has played a vital role in the lives of the people and animals along the route – but now the numbers are dwindling. Adam Weymouth kayaked the length of their run to find out why.
His journey, told in the award-winning Kings of the Yukon: An Alaskan River Journey, encompasses nature, travel, adventure, politics and the environment. It is, in many ways, an everyday story of human greed. Salmon numbers have plummeted after decades of industrialised over-fishing and climate change, with dire consequences for everyone and everything that depended on their annual return, from grizzly bears to the Yup’ik people.
Born in Salisbury, Weymouth lives on a 100-year-old Dutch barge on the River Lea in London and has spent much of his life writing about global warming and environmentalism. And while he tries to remain positive, his outlook for the planet is bleak. “When the shit hits the fan,” he said in a recent interview, “we’re going to turn up the air conditioning.”