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The World’s Largest King Salmon at 30,000 Feet

The notion of flying salmon conjures up a few images for people. Some think of the majestic salmonids jumping the falls and turbulent rapids as the fish “run up” their natal rivers in the Pacific Northwest to spawn.  Others envision fishmongers tossing salmon at the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle.  From today on, however,...

Rendering of Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II (Courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

The notion of flying salmon conjures up a few images for people. Some think of the majestic salmonids jumping the falls and turbulent rapids as the fish “run up” their natal rivers in the Pacific Northwest to spawn.  Others envision fishmongers tossing salmon at the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle.  From today on, however, I may think of salmon at 30,000 ft and at that–the biggest salmon in the world.

This morning I woke up to an advertisement or maybe it was a press release–I don’t quite remember!

Still half asleep, I peered at the television, as I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard someone mention “the largest salmon in the world.” And indeed, I caught a glimpse of a gigantic salmon painted on a plane or a rendering of a plane.

Alaska Airlines in a partnership with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has brought back the aerial, piscine favorite. The  “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” is no joke. Nine feet longer than its predecessor, the painted fish design on a 737-800 was unveiled this week.  Stretching nearly 129 feet in total length, the fancy fish will adorn a member of Alaska Arline’s fleet of Boeing aircraft 737’s and be will be revealed later this year.

Derived from an earlier version of painted fish design, the new “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon II” follows “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon,” which was unveiled in 2005. In the interim, the traditional emblem of an Eskimo adorned the aircraft.  The new fish design features fish scales on the winglets and a salmon-pink colored “Alaska” script across the fuselage, making it among the world’s most intricately painted commercial airplanes in the world.

“This airplane celebrates Alaska Airlines’ unique relationship with the people and communities of Alaska and underscores our air transport commitment to the state’s seafood industry,” said Marilyn Romano, Alaska Airlines’ regional vice president of the state of Alaska. “Because the new design will be featured on a larger 737-800, this 91,000-pound king will boldly promote the world’s finest seafood from the Hawaiian Islands to Boston and beyond.”

To give you some idea of the volume of seafood that is flown from Alaska to destinations elsewhere in North America, just last year, the airline, based out of of Seattle, flew nearly 25 million pounds of seafood from the Frontier State to markets in Mexico, Canada, and the contiguous 48.  Through rigorous training and streamlined flight schedules, airline employees manage to get fish from Alaska’s waterways to fish markets typically within 24 hours.  The objective of these food handlers is to keep the fish moving fast while maintained within a constant temperature range from water to market.

“Alaska Airlines has a long history of supporting the Alaska seafood industry, and this special plane celebrates that commitment,” ASMI Executive Director Ray Riutta said. “We’re proud to partner with the state’s hometown airline.”

According to ASMI, about half of the United States’ total seafood catch comes from Alaska fisheries. In addition, the state of Alaska is widely regarded as a world leader in sustainable management of its seafood resources.

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Meet the Author

Author Photo Jordan Carlton Schaul
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: