dwellers have long respected the salmon.
Most peoples of the Northern Pacific shores
had a ceremony to honor the first return of
the year. For many centuries, people caught
the salmon as they swam upriver. A famous
spearfishing site on the Columbia River at
Celilo Falls was inundated after great dams
were built on the river. The Ainu, of
northern Japan, taught dogs how to catch
salmon as they returned to their breeding
grounds en masse. Now, salmon are caught in
bays and near shore. Long drift net
fisheries have been banned on the high seas
except off the coast of Ireland.
Salmon population levels are of concern in
the Atlantic and some parts of the Pacific
but in northern British Columbia and Alaska
stocks are still abundant. The Skeena river
alone has millions of wild salmon returning
which support commercial fisheries,
aboriginal food fisheries, sports fisheries
and the area's diverse wildlife on the coast
and around communities hundreds of miles
inland in the watershed.
and Pacific Salmon are important to
recreational fishing around the world.
In the southern hemisphere there is the
Australian salmon, which is a salt water
species not related in any way to the
salmonidae. It is found along the southern
coastline of Australia and Tasmania.
Commonly caught there with large beach nets,
its use as a commercial fish has been
declining over the last 20 years.
The wild salmon find mates in their native
streams then the female salmon lays salmon
eggs in the bottom gravel nests called redds.
These eggs usually range from an orange to
red in color. The eggs are fertilized by the
male and later hatch into alevin or sac fry.
The fry quickly develop into parr with
camouflaging vertical stripes. The parr stay
for one to three years in their native
stream before becoming smolts which are
distinguished by their bright silvery color
with scales that are easlily rubbed off. The
smolt body chemistry changes allowing them
to live in salt water. Smolts spend a
portion of their out-migration time in
brackish water, where their body chemistry
changes, allowing them to osmoregulate in
At sea before their first return to
freshwater they are called grilse. They
migrate out into the ocean where they will
develop in about two to eight years,
(depending on the species) into mature
salmon. After living and growing in the open
ocean, the adult salmon will return to its
native stream, breed, spawn and die. When
fish return for the first time they are
called whitling in the UK. When it matures
prior to spawning, depending on the species,
the salmon undergoes changes. They may grow
a hump, develop canine teeth, develop a
fytke ( large upgrowth of the lower jaw in
male Atlantic Salmon). All will change from
the silvery blue of a fresh run fish from
the sea to a beautiful red color. Condition
tends to deteriorate the longer the fish are
in freshwater and they then deteriorate
further after they spawn becoming known as
kelts. No one knows why they go back to the
stream they were born in to die, but they
make amazing journeys sometimes hundreds of
miles inland and fight up against strong
rapids to reproduce and start the next
The ages of any salmon can be deduced from
the growth rings on their scales when
examined under the microscope. Freshwater
growth shows as densely crowded rings; sea
growth as widely spaced rings representing
rapid growth and spawning is marked by
significant erosion as body mass is
converted into eggs and milt.
Freshwater streams and estuaries provide
important habitat for many salmon species.
They feed on terrestrial and aquatic
insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans
while young, and primarily on other fish
when older. Eggs are laid in deeper water
with larger gravel, and need cool water and
good water flow (to supply oxygen) to
survive. Mortality of salmon in the early
life stages is usually high due to natural
predation and human induced changes in
habitat, such as siltation, high water
temperatures, low oxygen conditions, loss of
stream cover and reductions in river flow.
Estuaries and their associated wetlands
provide vital nursery areas for the salmon
prior to their departure to the open ocean.
Wetlands not only help buffer the estuary
from silt and pollutants, but also provide
important feeding and hiding areas.
Many wild Salmon stocks have seen a marked
decline in recent decades, especially the
north Atlantic populations which spawn in
western European waters. The cause of this
decline is not well understood but is likely
to include a number of factors including:
Faeroes and Greenland salmon netting
and river warming which can delay spawning
and accelerate transition to smolting.
infections of the 1970s and 1980s which
severely impacted adult salmon in
- Loss of
suitable freshwater habitat, especially
suitable spawning redd material. Flood
prevention measures frequently have severe
adverse impacts on river habitat status.
- Loss of
invertebrate diversity and population
density in rivers because of modern
farming methods and diverse pollution thus
reducing food availability.
Reduction in freshwater flow in rivers
because of over abstraction,
hydroelectricity generation, irrigation
- Man made
obstructions in rivers such as dams and
Salmon is a popular food, and reasonably
healthy due to its high protein and Omega-3
fatty acids and its overall low fat levels.
According to reports by Science, however,
farmed salmon may contain high levels of
dioxins. PCB (Polychlorinated biphenyl)
levels may also be up to 8 times higher in
farmed salmon compared to wild salmon, and
Omega-3 content may also be lower than wild
caught species. Wild salmon are a healthy
food, but according to the British FSA (Food
Standards Agency) the benefits of eating
even farmed salmon still outweigh the risks.
Also it is important to note, salmon is
generally one of the least tainted by
methylmercury of all fish.
A simple rule of thumb is that the vast
majority of Atlantic salmon available on the
world market is farmed (greater than 99%),
whereas the majority of Pacific salmon is
wild-caught (greater than 80%).
Salmon is generally a red-flesh fish,
although there are some examples of white
fleshed wild salmon. The natural color of
salmon results from carotenoids —
astaxanthin and to a lesser degree,
canthaxanthin — in the fish flesh. Wild
salmon get these carotenoids from eating
krill and other tiny shellfish. Farm salmon
get them in their feed, along with other
essential nutrients. Astaxanthin is a potent
antioxidant that also stimulates fish
nervous systems and improves fertility and
Canned salmon in the U.S. is usually wild
Pacific catch, though some farmed salmon is
available in canned form. Alaskan salmon is
always wild catch. Smoked salmon is another
popular preparation method, and can either
be hot or cold smoked.
Lox can refer either
to cold smoked salmon, or to salmon cured in
a brine solution (also called gravlax).
Raw salmon meat may contain anisakidae,
marine parasites that cause Anisakiasis.
Before the availability of refrigeration,
Japanese did not consume raw salmon. Salmon
and salmon roes were not used to make
sashimi (raw fish) and sushi until recently.
Salmon is a minor contributor in the world
production of finfish aquaculture which
includes many other species like: tilapia,
sea bass, carp, bream, and trout. Salmon are
carnivorous and are currently fed a meal
produced from catching other wild fish, so
as the number of farmed salmon increase, the
demand for other fish to feed the salmon
increases. Work continues on substituting
vegetable proteins for animal proteins in
the salmon diet, unfortunately though, this
substitution results in lower levels of the
highly valued Omega-3 content in the farmed
product. Intensive salmon farming now uses
open net cages which have low production
costs but have the drawback of allowing
disease and sea lice spread to local wild
salmon stocks. Alaska has developed a safer
form of salmon production called ocean
ranching. Salmon are raised in hatcheries
until they are old enough to become
independent. They are released into the
ocean far from any wild salmon streams, then
they are free to live and develop fully out
in the open ocean until it is time for them
to complete the normal salmon cycle of
returning to fresh water to spawn and die.
When they sense they are going to spawn they
immediately return to where they were
released. It is advantageous for fishermen
to catch them when they return, as they get
a better catch.
The various species of salmon have many
salmon or Salmon (Salmo salar), is the
species after which all the others are
Land-locked salmon (Salmo salar sebago)
live in a number of lakes in eastern North
America. This subspecies is non-migratory,
even when access to the sea is not barred.
Atlantic species, Salmo trutta, is usually
classified as a trout, despite being a
closer relative of Atlantic Salmon than
any of the Pacific species of salmon. See
salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is known
locally as "Red Salmon" or "Blueback
Salmon." This species is found south as
far as the Klamath River in California in
the eastern Pacific and northern Hokkaido
Island in Japan in the western Pacific and
as far north as Bathurst Inlet in the
Canadian Arctic in the east and the Anadyr
River in Siberia in the west.
salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is also
known locally as King, Tyee, Spring
Salmon, Quinnat, Tule, or Blackmouth
salmon or Humpback salmon (Oncorhynchus
gorbuscha) is found from northern
California and Korea, throughout the
northern Pacific, and from the Mackenzie
River in Canada to the Lena River in
salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) is known
locally as Dog or Calico salmon. This
species has a wide geographic range: south
to the Sacramento River in California in
the eastern Pacific and the island of
Kyushu in the Sea of Japan in the western
Pacific; north to the Mackenzie River in
Canada in the east and to the Lena River
in Siberia in the west.
salmon or Silver salmon (Oncorhynchus
kisutch) is found throughout the coastal
waters of Alaska and British Columbia and
up most clear-running streams and rivers.
salmon (Oncorhynchus masu or O. masou) is
found only in the western Pacific Ocean in
Japan, Korea and Russia.