We find salmon to be one of the most interesting species of fish in the world. Salmon will travel up to 2,400 miles from the ocean without eating to the exact tributary where they were born. Along the way, they face waterfalls, beaver dams, bears, eagles and humans. Of the 10 percent that achieve the opportunity to spawn, their glory is rather short, as they all die soon afterwards. Talk about determination! Here are a few more fun facts about salmon that you may not have known about:
- It was a Native American legend that salmon would return to the exact location where they were born to spawn. It took years for technology to catch up to prove that the legend was exactly true.
- Salmon are one of the few species on earth that are “anadromous”, meaning they live their lives both in freshwater and saltwater.
- Although still quite unknown, some species of salmon are believed to travel as far as to Japan before returning to the same river where they were born.
- Salmon rely on their strong sense of smell to help guide them to the tributary where they were born. They also use ocean currents, tides, and the gravitational pull of the moon while in the ocean.
- Some species of salmon, like the Sockeye, drastically change color when returning to freshwater to spawn.
The main naturally occurring species of Salmon can be broken down into two groups – Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon.
Atlantic Salmon – Also known as Maine salmon, spend their younger years in Maine or Newfoundland rivers and travel as far as Greenland while at sea.
Chinook salmon – By far the largest species of salmon. They average aroudn 10-50 lbs, but may grow to be up to 130 lbs. The sporting record for Chinook salmon is currently 97.25lbs, and was caught in the Kenai River in Alaska.
Chum salmon – Also known as the Dog salmon for their large canine like fangs, Chum salmon are the second largest species of salmon. They are the only species of salmon that form schools. The current sporting record for Chum salmon is 42 lbs and 44 inches long, and was caught at Edie Pass in British Columbia.
Coho salmon – Resemble a smaller version of the Chinook salmon in appearance. The sporting record for Coho salmon is 35 lbs, which was caught in Oswego NY in the Great Oswego River. There are other contested records in Ontario and the British Columbia.
Pink salmon – The smallest of the Pacific salmon species, they inhabit primarily Alaskan waters. The current sporting record for Pink Salmon is 14.86 lbs in the Skykomish River in Washington.
Sockeye salmon – Also known as red or blueback salmon, sockeye are known primarily for their bright red skin while living in freshwater. The current sporting record for Sockeye salmon is 16 lbs and was caught in the Kenai River in Alaska.
Steelhead – Also known as coastal rainbow trout, Steelhead are one of the few species of salmon that do not always die after spawning.
Although there are several other species of fish called salmon, such as the Danube salmon and the Australian salmon. They are not closely related to the salmons of the Salmonidae family. Also, many species have been introduced to new locations such as New Zealand.
Life Cycle of Salmon
Conservation and sustainability of salmon levels continue to be a big issue for many environmental organizations. In some reports, salmon populations in rivers like the Columbia River are less than 3 percent than what they were before Lewis and Clark arrived to them. These reserves have been depleted for a variety of reasons.
Particularly along the United States Pacific coast and the British Columbia coast, natural salmon populations have been depleted due to over fishing. This issue goes as far back as 1908, when Theodore Roosevelt called for action to be taken to preserve Salmon populations in the Columbia River in his State of the Union address.
Man made dams can fragment species of salmon and alter their natural habitat. Natural flooding is also a necessary part of the salmon’s life cycle particularly in the spawning stage. Flooding naturally cleans out a river of diseases and sediment.
Although many actions have been taken to limit the pollution in rivers, runoff from farms and developed areas affect phosphorous levels and other toxin levels in rivers.
The depletion of salmon reserves has an adverse affect on the salmon’s ecosystem as a whole. Many natural predators of salmon including including Grizzly Bears and Bald Eagles. Also, many fish species, birds, otters, seals and even killer whales depend on younger salmon for food.
If you have the time, take a look at “Salmon – Running the Gauntlet” produced by PBS.
Looking for something salmon related? Try out our Google custom search engine that only displays results from Salmon related websites.
If you think you have something to add to the Manitou Pontoon Boats Salmon page, please let us know!
This post was put together by Mike Hall, a boating enthusiast.