Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/37

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SINCE the time of Magna Charta it has been an object, directly or indirectly, on the part of the Legislature, to protect the supplies of salmon with which our rivers used to be so abundantly stocked: but, notwithstanding the laws which have at various times been enacted, this fish gradually became scarcer till, in 1861, all the old laws were repealed, and fresh and more stringent regulations made for protecting and increasing our salmon-supplies. In addition to the fostering care which is bestowed, under the Salmon Fishery Acts of 1861 and 1865, on the fish in the rivers, means have been adopted to artificially rear salmon, so as to increase their numbers more rapidly than could be done in the ordinary course of Nature. Mr. Frank Buckland has been the pioneer of this system of artificial breeding of salmon and trout, and the experiments and operations which have been carried on during the last few years have thrown great light on the hitherto unknown habits of this "king of fish."

Any one who looks into the fishmongers' shops just now can see what a clean, fresh-run salmon, ready for cooking, is like––a silvery, plump creature, whose "lines" are made for speed in water, and whose graceful curves give the completest idea of vigor and strength in stemming a rapid current of water.

But very few people, probably, know what sort of an appearance this beautiful fish presents in its infancy. Hidden away during that period in the upper waters of our salmon rivers, and ultimately in the depths of the sea, it is lost to sight till it grows large enough to be taken by the salmon-nets; and, until lately, very little was known of its natural history, or of its habits, though the experience of the last few years has revealed many interesting facts concerning the development of this fish, through the egg, fry, smolt, and grilse stages, till it becomes a full-grown salmon.

Fig. 1. Fig. 2.
PSM V04 D037 Salmon eggs.jpg
New-laid Salmon Egg. Egg after about 35 Days.

Fig. 1 represents the egg––natural size––of a salmon just laid. Each female salmon carries, on an average, 800 to 900 of such eggs to every pound of her weight. They are generally of a pinky opal color, elastic to the touch, covered with a soft, horny membrane, with a mi-