Most fish swim. Salmon race. And based on the official Washington State Department of Natural Resources Twitter account, they also make perfect meme material.
On Oct. 5, @waDNR tweeted out a simple, tongue-in-cheek poster offering encouragement to all spawning salmon across the state.
“Live, laugh, lay eggs and die,” it reads, scribbled in appropriately pink handwriting.
Amassing over 15,000 retweets and 92,000 likes, the poster quickly reached viral status, prompting multiple DNR follows, as well as a sea of celebratory responses.
In a second meme aptly titled “Live Your Salmon Goal,” various recommendations, ranging from swimming 1,500 miles to surviving fat bear week, appear.
In a separate follow-up to the original poster, the DNR provided additional context for the inspirational messages.
“Bad news: Pacific salmon are actually dying after their long journey upstream to spawn,” it read. “Good news: more than 150 species depend on the migration and death of salmon for their sustenance.
“Even baby salmon feed on the carcasses,” he continues. “Thank you, mom and dad…?”
Throughout the summer and fall in northern California, Oregon, and Washington, many species of Pacific salmon migrate upstream from the oceans to freshwater environments. , where they spawn, and the males and females die soon after.
A crucial process for fish and the hundreds of species that depend on them for food, the annual Pacific salmon migration is a sight to behold and every year people from all over the world travel to the Pacific Northwest to to witness it.
Today, however, 14 species of salmon and rainbow trout are listed as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.
Warming waters and other environmental issues resulting from climate change have endangered multiple salmon populations. And according to Ray Hilborn, a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences at the University of Washington, this is a trend that has been going on for decades.
“Things have generally gotten worse in the lower 48s … since the 1980s,” Hilborn said. Newsweek. “This is mainly due to the climate [and] environmental changes.
Noting that some populations are actually improving in Alaska, Hilborn said that despite declines in the lower 48 states, the northern Pacific Ocean now contains more salmon than at any time in history.
“Part of that [is] due to hatcheries in Alaska and Russia,” Hilborn explained. “But mostly wild stocks in Alaska and Russia that are doing well.
To specifically address endangered salmon populations in their state, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources has launched WatershedConnect“to identify and implement high-impact projects that contribute to the recovery of salmon.”
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources Twitter account, which already went viral earlier this year with a pair of posts about fire safety and staying hydrated, is also high impact.
In response to the series of tweets about this year’s Pacific salmon migration, many Twitter users couldn’t help but smile, applauding the department’s social media staff in the process.
“I really need to know who handles WADNR communications these days,” @amy_prof posted. “Really, really great.”
“Someone at Washington State DNR really deserves a raise,” @s_sedwards added.
“A person on social media deserves a raise,” @Katherine__13_ replied, more simply.
Separately, Twitter user @slugcrag offered Washington State his own encouragement.
“Never let anyone tell you you’re not great, Washington,” they wrote.
Newsweek contacted the Washington State Department of Natural Resources for comment.