What Humans Can Learn from The Wisdom of Salmon

What can salmon teach us about sustainability in a complex environment? Marine biologist Alexandra Morton shares startling new research that lets us decode the information stored in a salmon’s immune system. The data reveals where we’re harming the fish, the ocean, and ourselves – ultimately revealing lessons for how humans can thrive on this planet without destroying it.

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Alexandra is known for her 30-year study of wild killer whales in the Broughton Archipelago in British Columbia. She began her work as a volunteer in the Human/Dolphin Society in 1977, where she cataloged 2,000 audio recordings of bottlenose dolphins. In 1980, Alexandra shifted her studies to wild killer whales. Her work took her to the coast of British Columbia, where she witnessed the impacts of salmon farming. First, the whales she was studying left, then the salmon populations crashed, and the community around the region began to lose its livelihoods. This chain of events inspires Morton’s research and advocacy to this day.

In 1981, Alexandra founded Raincoast Research Society, a science-based association committed to researching the devastating impacts of Atlantic salmon farming on British Columbia’s wild salmon stocks. Partnering with scientists around the world, her organization produced some of the first studies on salmon farm impacts in British Columbia and continues to break new ground in this field.

In 2010, Alexandra won the Women of Discovery Sea Award, in recognition of her achievements in science and exploration.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Alexandra Morton went into the wilderness of the BC coast in 1980 to conduct a long-term study on communication in wild orca. When salmon farms moved into the Broughton Archipelago, she began documenting their devastating impact. First, the whales she was studying left, then the salmon populations crashed. In an effort to protect this remote ecosystem, Morton built a research station, published in leading scientific journals and stood with local First Nations as an activist. Today, Morton sees what happened to her home in the context of the challenges humanity faces today and she finds salmon hold the wisdom we need. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

Alexandra Morton

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In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. Our event is called TEDxSeattle, where x = independently organized TED event. At our TEDxSeattle event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including ours, are self-organized.