Alaska: The Nutrient Cycle Response

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There were many interesting topics that were discussed last class. Yet the one segment that was most memorable to me was the short film showcasing the live cycle of salmon. The film, which didn’t even feature any form of narrative to provide context, yet was a surprisingly fitting film that encapsulates why biodiversity exists, and why we should care now more than ever. The film was also very beautiful, incorporating shots of just the environment around the lake. It was able to establish a strong sense of mood and atmosphere. Not only was the film aesthetically pleasing, but it also does a great job in showcasing how Mother Nature itself, has its own self-sustaining ecosystem. I always knew that, but actually seeing subtly how the life and death of one creature affects the intricate webbing that is nature is certainly fascinating. It also begs the question; on what roles we have as humans towards sustaining nature.

When the short film came on, I was immediately captured by how beautifully shot the environment was. From the mist covered forests, to the snow covered mountains. The film did an excellent job in establishing the setting of Alaska through visual forms only. Not only was this a great opening sequence, but also in my opinion, conveys a strong sense of atmosphere, like the calm before a storm, or how the misty mountains signal a time for change. After the quiet opening sequence, comes a hectic display of salmon, rushing to lay their eggs as their time slowly runs out. From here, the film perfectly shows how the their death paves way to be a food sources for the bears, then bears also affect how the salmon body is being used as fertilizer for the plant life (in a very disturbing way). I like how the film doesn’t focus solely on the life and death of the salmon; rather, it quietly shows one life depends on the death of another, thus the cycle of nature. It also raises questions of what role mankind plays.

I like how the film shows the intricacies of the “nutrient cycle”; it raises the question as to how we as humans fit into this cycle. Like the Monk Seals discussion, could we as humans, perhaps be trying to play god too much? One small change in the webbing could potentially have drastic repercussions. I believe there’s a fine line between how much we should actively control the population of a species, if it is absolutely beneficial (i.e. sustaining the population of bees), yet some are purely through our moral obligation towards helping nature. We tread a fine line of disrupting the ecosystem or neglecting aid towards sustaining it, and it is something I hope in the future where mankind’s progress would work in harmony with nature’s self-sustaining environment.

-Samuel Lam

Bibliography: Kleaver, Paul. “Alaska: The Nutrient Cycle – Aeon Video.” Aeon Magazine. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <;.


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