Skip to main content
Original Issue


Varsity salmon

If nothing much can be done about all the dams that make the salmon's spawning job more difficult each season on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, then something must be done about the salmon. So reasoned a onetime football coach named Lauren Donaldson a decade ago. Now a research scientist at the University of Washington's fisheries center, square-jawed Dr. Donaldson (shown here with some of the 250,000 salmon fingerlings he plants annually) is on the threshold of producing a Chinook salmon that is capable of coping with any dam. Moreover, the fish will gladden the hearts of fishermen in the area.

Over the last 10 years, by means of controlled diet and an easy migration route from the sea, Dr. Donaldson has developed a select race of college-bred fish that survives disease and the elements in ever-increasing numbers during the annual seasonal "homecoming," when its weaker cousins expire by the million.

For Dr. Donaldson, this experiment in speeded-up evolution means that salmon can be tailored to virtually any size or shape man wishes. "It takes considerable effort," he says, "to change something the Lord's been working on for millions of years. But it can be done, and we're doing it!"