Photo Diary: A contemplation of life and death at Ayum Creek, Sooke, November 2013.
Ayum Creek, Sooke, BC
I caught the salmon spawning at Ayum Creek by happenstance last week. Initially ventured down the banks to take some long exposure water photographs, only to find the river estuary bustling with activity – huge salmon flip-flopping, struggling upstream against the rushing current and a flock of seagulls on watch, seemingly out of place in the forest. Luckily, there were no bears. There were many, many dead fish and a horrible stench...
This is The End
At one point, I stood, just staring at a rotted fish carcass on the shore, utterly repulsed by it. I caught myself feeling this discomfort... Rather than turn away from it, I sat with the feeling and asked myself: why was it so uncomfortable?
Perhaps because it is death, a reminder of our own mortality. I began to flip this around in my mind and then I saw that it's actually, in a strange way, beautiful. This fish's last action is to fight upstream, against the odds, to spawn – to give life to the next generation – before dying in the river and rotting away.
So I stretched outside of my comfort zone and began photographing the dead, rotted fish on the pebble shores of the estuary as my way to honour their journeys, life to death.