Most salmon go to incredible lengths to make it upstream to their spawning grounds. They swim against heavy currents, jump up waterfalls, and sometimes travel hundreds of miles in the name of reproduction. But we’ve never heard of salmon crossing roads… until now.
Each year in Mason County, Washington, heavy rains flood the Skokomish River, causing its waters to run over fields and roads—and each year, chum salmon are happy to take advantage of the newly opened waterways. This video captures the fearless salmon braving a busy roadway covered with just a few inches of water. Their bodies half exposed and their bellies scraping gravel, the salmon nevertheless manage to cross the street in just a few seconds.
Most salmon that swim upstream contend with the possibility of being eaten by bears, but these salmon have a new predator to fear: cars. As you can see, they hang back at the edge of the road, seeming to evaluate the situation, waiting for the best moment to swim for it.
A salmon’s journey back to its birthplace is an incredible feat, even when it doesn’t have to dodge trucks. After they’re born, salmon live in rivers and streams until they reach full size, and then they make their way to the ocean, where they adapt to life in salt water. After a few years of living mostly solitary lives in the ocean, the salmon return to the rivers in droves to swim back to their birthplaces. Scientists don’t fully understand what prompts them to make the trip, or how they know where they’re going, but they are clearly driven by powerful instincts that push them to attempt the hazardous journey. Once they reach their destination, the salmon spawn and, exhausted from their migration, die soon after.
It’s an incredible story of perseverance and instinct, and clearly salmon aren’t about to let man-made structures like roads get in their way. So next time you’re feeling like you can’t handle the commute to work, try turning on this video for some inspiration.