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Pajiba After Dark: Salmon Sex Can Move Mountains

By Tori Preston | Miscellaneous | October 23, 2017 |

By Tori Preston | Miscellaneous | October 23, 2017 |

Sex: it’s what’s on the brain. Even if you’re having plenty of mind-blowing, bed-shaking, neighbor-annoying sex, you’re still probably thinking about how to do it even better. But you may as well give up now, because when it comes to earth-shattering sex acts, salmon have us beat. Literally. Turns out, salmon sex can move mountains.

But not, like, immediately.

If you’ve been keeping up to date on Geomorphology (a journal I’m sure you all read religiously), you may have noticed the new study that quantitatively shows that salmon can impact the shape of the land. By, you know, mating. As covered by IFL Science, the study, led by a Washington State University researcher named Alex Fremier, focused on the way female salmon “fluff” the gravel on the river bottom as they prepare their nests.

Not THAT kind of fluff. Gawd. Get your minds out of the gutter.


Anyway, the loosened sediment in the river caused by the nesting is then more easily removed by flooding, which THEN leaves the bedrock open to erosion.

“The salmon aren’t just moving sediment,” says Fremier. “They’re changing the character of the stream bed, so when there are floods, the soil and gravel is more mobile.”

Fremier and his team modeled the effects over 5 million years and saw that streams with spawning salmon had lower elevations over time, while the land alongside them was more prone to erosion. Different types of salmon have different effects on their environments, and their impacts on the stream environment can in turn give rise to new breeds of salmon.

The point is that even a single organism can influence the environment around them. Even sexy salmon.

Also, for what it’s worth, apparently watching sockeye salmon spawn is a big tourist attraction. Because pervs.

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Tori Preston is deputy editor of Pajiba. She rarely tweets here but she promises she reads all the submissions for the "Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything" column at [email protected]. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba