The Theosophical Society in America

Saving the Fry

by Morry Secrest

Originally printed in the Spring 2011 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Secrest, Morry. " Saving the Fry
." Quest  99. 2 (Spring 2011):73.

Morry SecrestSome years ago, I took part in a meditation class of more than a dozen folks in the Portland, Oregon , area who worked for eight weeks to learn the basics of meditation. They finished the class, all of them, but they wanted more. They were eager to put their newfound skill to use in the real world by doing something useful.

After some discussion, our group adopted the following assignment: Knowing that the dams along the Columbia River present a significant difficulty to fry (baby salmon) swimming downstream, the group decided to go to one of the dams and meditate so that the devas (nature spirits) of the fish would be encouraged to guide the fry to the fish ladders alongside the dams and avoid going through the huge generator turbines and spillways.

One of our members knew that the greatest danger to the fry traveling downstream was not physical harm, but rather the shock of the fast changes in pressure that develop whenever the fry pass either through the turbine or over the spillway. They are not physically harmed, and will quickly recover and resume their downstream travel. However, the stunned fry tend to float to the surface until they reawaken. During this brief time, they are vulnerable to their major predator, the seagull.

Every dam has a large flock of seagulls congregated on the downstream side of the structure. They swoop down to snag the unconscious fry, which become a meal. A fairly large proportion of fry are lost in this way.

When the fry utilize the fish ladder, however, they suffer no shock and maintain their ability to avoid the predators. It is this which our group determined as its objective.

We all traveled up to the Bonneville Dam, the nearest one to Portland , on a Saturday morning. The weather was warm and sunny, and we all quickly settled into an overlook from which we could see the intake to the fish ladder on the upstream side of the dam. Here we concentrated on communicating with the devas in charge of the salmon fry, encouraging them to lead their charges to the fish ladder intake rather than to the face of the dam itself. After two hours, we all decided among ourselves that the meditation was successful, though without any evidence whatever for corroboration.

Fish passage monitoring is done by means of a large window built into the fish ladder waterway, with the monitor capturing the number and type of fish passing by. Many weeks later, one of our members reported back that he overheard a conversation between two of the folks who reviewed the fish passage activity. (His desk at his workplace was two cubicles away from theirs.) Their conversation revolved around a puzzling event: the number of fry using the fish ladder had increased considerably during the latest reporting period. They had no idea why such an increase should have occurred. The baby salmon were surviving! Our group was elated.

Now even though this little story is true, it is clearly nothing more than a case of synchronicity. It is hardly admissible in a scientific discussion of fish survival tactics. But it is useful for encouraging meditation groups to look for opportunities in their local areas to help Mother Nature and to encourage all concerning the reality and value of using thought power in beneficial ways. It might be possible to include one or more scientifically trained people who could write up the data in such a way that it would be suitable for being published in a scientific journal.


Morry Secrest is a retired engineer. He is a longtime student of Theosophy and teacher of meditation.