A-z - Animals


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Millions of pounds of salmon are harvested each year as a source of nutrition.

salmon 1

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Every year, when the conditions are right, salmon swim upstream to breed with other fish and create the next generation of fish. This was accompanied by dramatic physical changes, as it changed color and size to adapt to its new habitat. Many never make it. Predators, birds of prey, and even humans hunt these fish for their oily flesh, which is rich in omega-3s and protein.

3 Unbelievable Facts!

  • Great sense of smell: The extraordinary sense of smell allows salmon to find the same spawning grounds every year. It seems to have recorded memories of smells on the ground from the moment the juveniles start migrating to the ocean. Sockeye salmon can even sense changes in the Earth's magnetic field.
  • Mythical Creatures: Salmon are important figures in some Celtic, Irish and Norse mythology. One legend claims that Loki transformed himself into a salmon to escape punishment from the other gods.
  • Multi-Stage Maturation: Salmon go through several life stages as they mature. The first stage is called fry. After growing about an inch, it becomes a pal and develops black camouflage spots all over its body. After a few inches, it becomes a smolt, loses its spots and returns to the sea.

taxonomic name

A school of bright sockeye salmon swims upstream
These sockeye salmon are members of the salmonid family, one of eight true species of salmon in the North Pacific.

©JCA Images/Shutterstock.com

Salmon are a group of fish belonging to the family Salmonidae . The name comes from the English word for the Latin word salmo . This in turn may be based on an older word meaning "to jump". It's important to note that not every member of the salmon family is a true salmon, as the family also includes trout, char, and vendace.


Salmonids are divided into two distinct genera. The genus Salmon includes only Atlantic salmon. The genus Oncorhynchus includes all species of Pacific salmon. There are currently about eight species of real salmon (seven of which are Pacific), plus four other "fake" salmon, including the completely freshwater Danube salmon, which actually look more like trout. Here are a few examples of real salmon:

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  • Chinook Salmon: This species is endemic to rivers and coasts in Alaska, China, Japan, Siberia, and the Pacific regions of the United States and Canada. The name itself is derived from the Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest, but other common names include king salmon and spring salmon.
  • Atlantic Salmon: This species is widespread in Canada, Greenland, Europe and the northern United States.
  • Sockeye Salmon: Bright red in color, sockeye salmon are endemic to the North Pacific.


Salmon - seafood, white background, whole, cut out, fresh
This Atlantic salmon shows off its genus' long body and variety of fins, including a gleaming silvery exterior.


Salmon is a long fish with a pointed or hooked bill, two sets of paired fins on the pelvis and sides, and four single fins around the body. It has a gleaming silvery appearance with blue, red, green, pink or purple pockets most of the year, but as the spawning season approaches, the scales change to Various bright colors. Some species may also experience physical changes such as a hump, curved jaw or canine teeth.

An average adult weighs about 10 to 20 pounds, but there is considerable variation in this number. Pink salmon weigh no more than 3 to 6 pounds, while the aptly named king salmon (chinook salmon) weighs closer to 23 pounds. The largest specimen ever recorded was the 126-pound Chinook man, nearly 5 feet long. The biggest ever was an 82-pound behemoth from Sitka, Alaska.


Salmon isolated on white background
Salmon spend most of their lives in saltwater oceans, but return to freshwater sources to spawn.


The fish is adapted to an anadromous lifestyle, meaning it spends its life in the saltwater ocean before returning to a freshwater source (usually its birthplace) to spawn. The greatest concentration is in the North Pacific, but it is also endemic to the North Atlantic. Salmon have also been introduced to several non-native regions, including the Great Lakes in North America and Patagonia in South America.

predator and prey

The fish's diet includes worms, squid, crustaceans (such as krill), and other fish. In turn, it is a common food source for many predators, including bears, seals, killer whales, sharks, otters, kingfishers, eagles and humans. Salmon actually play a key role in the ecosystem by moving resources from nitrogen-rich oceans to inland areas.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Driven by instinct, salmon's life revolves around an annual schedule that culminates in the spawning season when they head upstream in late summer or fall. Most species cling to the sea, but some Chinook or king salmon populations make the epic journey of more than 2,000 miles up the Yukon River. They fought in the water, jumped and jumped against the direction of the river.

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Salmon Leaping in Alaska
Salmon will do their best to swim upstream to their spawning grounds, where they lay their eggs and are fertilized.

©Sekar B/Shutterstock.com

To reproduce, the female digs a hole in the gravel with her tail and lays thousands of eggs. The male will come and release his sperm into the water to fertilize the eggs. Hatching takes 60 to 200 days, depending on the surrounding water temperature. Once hatched, the juveniles eat the remaining yolk and emerge from the gravel. It may linger at the same spawning site for several years before returning to the sea, but some species return almost immediately after hatching. Life expectancy is between two and seven years, but the average lifespan is four to five years.

fishing and cooking

This fish is one of the most popular fish in the world due to its abundance, meatiness and nutrition, and ease of catching. It's second only to tuna in popularity, a study found. Millions of pounds of fish are caught in the Pacific Ocean each year. Half of them were just pink salmon. The other third is salmon. The rest of the catch is mostly sockeye. Atlantic and Chinook salmon are caught primarily by recreational and sport fishermen.

The fish tastes rather oily due to the abundance of healthy fats in the skin. The intensity of the flavor depends on its color. Lighter meats have a milder flavor, while redder meats have a much stronger flavor. Popular smoked, baked, fried. Nutritionally, it's a good source of protein and omega-3s.

farmed and wild

With consumers increasingly looking for more nutritious seafood, there are now more farmed salmon than wild salmon. Farmed salmon has been selectively bred to mature faster, while wild salmon takes 2 to 8 years to fully mature. The overall nutritional value of farmed salmon is usually higher than wild salmon, but the quality can vary.

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A black stripe on the gum line of Chinook salmon gives them the nickname blackmouth.
Chinook salmon has a black streak on its gum line that gives it the nickname blackmouth, but it's still real salmon.

©Martin Rudlof Photography/Shutterstock.com


This is one of the most abundant fish in the world's oceans. A 2018 study estimated that there are about 665 million adults in the North Pacific alone, two-thirds of whom are pink salmon. A combination of favorable ocean conditions and well-managed hatcheries has boosted numbers, even as many other types of fish are in decline. Alaska hatcheries release approximately 1.8 billion pink salmon larvae each year, while Asian hatcheries release an additional 3 billion. The fish is so prolific in the Pacific that some scientists worry it may threaten other fish by competing with them for food.

Most species are listed as being of least concern, but if there is any danger from human activity it is due to pollution, overfishing and dam construction. Danube salmon, while not true salmon, are currently endangered.

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Salmon is a very healthy oily meat rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and protein. However, studies have shown that salmon meat may contain small amounts of mercury, which can accumulate in marine ecosystems. That's not necessarily enough mercury to cause harm, but if you're concerned about mercury levels, Harvard Health recommends limiting yourself to no more than 6 ounces of salmon per week.

Salmon have an average lifespan of four to five years, depending on the species.

A typical salmon can leap about 2 meters (or 6.5 feet) in the air while swimming against the current.

Laboratory studies have shown that some salmon can swim as fast as 1.6 miles per hour on their way to their spawning sites. However, speeds of around 7 or 8 mph have been recorded. This isn't always enough to get rid of fast-moving predators like sharks.

It turns out that salmon's main diet is worms, cephalopods, crustaceans, and other fish.

Salmon belongs to the animal kingdom.

Salmon spawn.

The main differences between salmon and cod include their size, fillet color, and fillet texture. Cod are bigger than salmon, 10 times their weight, and grow longer than they do in the wild.

The biggest differences between sockeye and pink salmon include their size, scale color, and fillet color. Sockeye salmon are larger in weight and length than pink salmon.