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Copper River salmon arrives in Seattle

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Friday morning, chefs, photographers, and even reporters gathered on the tarmac at Sea-Tac, eagerly waiting for an Alaska Airlines flight to touch down.

The cargo?

22,000lbs of fish.

But this is no ordinary fish.

These salmon were caught on Alaska's Copper River.  It's the 10th largest river in the United States, according to copperriversalmon.org, and experts say the tough conditions create an especially delicious fish that is notably high in omega-3 fatty acids. Adult salmon live in the ocean, but they swim upriver in the spring and summer to spawn in freshwater, which means salmon caught on the Copper River this time of year are at peak maturity.

When the plane arrives, crews literally roll out a red carpet.

Chefs gather for a picture with the first Copper River Salmon delivery of the morning.

On the tarmac, chefs are tossing around words like "beautiful" and "perfect."  When the first fish comes off the plane, they crowd around it for a picture.  Someone kisses it.  Salmon doesn't get much fresher than this, and one chef says he's never even seen fish this big.  Everyone waiting for the plane to arrive agrees that the day Copper River Salmon arrives in the lower 48 should be a holiday.  But until then, we have a glorious sunrise, and the smell of salmon rising over the asphalt, and if that's not a holiday, what is?