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CNN Website

Up in the mountains of Idaho, people every year watch for
the return of a native who
jumps waterfalls and swims
950 miles of rapids to get home.

This year, however, there is no sign of the Sockeye Salmon and some say this incredible creature is in danger of being lost forever. Sockeyes once returned to spawn here by the thousands, giving Redfish Lake in Idaho it's name. Now the appearance of even one would be encouraging. "In 1994 we got one... so far this year we don't have any again, so it's a very dire situation," says biologist Keith Johnson.

The Sockeye population is on the brink of extinction and on that brink as well, a way of life for fishing guide Mitch Sanchopena: "With the loss of the runs we were forced to sell our boats and find other jobs."

At the hatchery in Redfish Lake, the adult salmon, perhaps the only hope for future generations, swim in circles when they once swam an epic journey.

"It migrates 900 miles to the ocean, travels thousands of miles to Alaska, spends a couple of years in the ocean and can remember exactly where it's home was," explains Johnson. "And there's no computer chip like that we can ever develop."

Eight monolithic dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers stand between the Sockeye and the sea. The turbines can be lethal to young fish and so are the slow moving, warm reservoirs. Most never make it to the ocean.

Some environmentalists blame the decline of salmon on the four dams along the Lower Snake River. They say it would be more economical in the long run to destroy the dams completely. Some call for temporarily lowering the reservoirs yearly to let the river run naturally. Then young salmon would be flushed to the sea in cool waters. But that would turn off the hydroelectric turbines, halt navigation, and impact farmers.

"We already face problems everyday with mother nature and just came out of a drought. Now you're talking about a manmade drought," says farmer Pat Takasugi.

Some call the journey of the Sockeye back to Redfish Lake a miraculous one. A miracle might be what is needed to keep this natural wonder from disappearing forever. 

Source: CNN Website


to spawn: to deposit their eggs (a desovar)
encouraging: favourable (alentador)
dire: hopeless, desperate (desesperante)
on the brink of: close to (al borde de la)
hatchery: incubator, a place where eggs are hatched under artificial conditions (especially fish eggs) (incubadora)
monolithic dams: monumental barriers constructed to contain water (imponentes diques, represas)  
lethal: mortal (letal, mortal)
reservoirs: artificial lakes (reservorios, lagos artificiales)

blame the decline of salmon on: attribute the responsibility of salmon reduction to (le echan la culpa de la reducción de salmones a)
in the long run: in the end (a la larga)
to let: to allow, to permit (para permitir que)
flushed: forced to swim, to flow (forzados, obligados)
would turn off: would stop operating (detendría)
halt: stop moving (frenaría la)
drought: temporary shortage of rainfall (sequía)