|The Story of the Salmon|
by grace and beauty, a silvery sheen and spotted back and fins, our beautiful
An anadromous animal, the Pacific Salmon breeds and spends
varying portions of its life in fresh water, then travels to the ocean to feed
until maturity. This is in contrast to pelagic species which are born and live
solely in the sea. Each of the five species of Salmon differs in its life history,
with Pinks, for example, living only two years and reaching a weights of five
plus pounds, while the giant chinook can reach over 90 pounds and lives for up
to seven years.
Salmon are born in gravel beds in streams anywhere from
a hundred yards to 1000 miles from the sea. Laid in the fall, the eggs incubate
for several months and then hatch. In the river, or a nearby lake, depending on
the species, they feed and grow for periods ranging up to a year or more. Then
in the spring, during the season of freshets, they head downstream to the sea.
In the sea they spend varying amounts of time ranging up to five years, eating
greedily and growing rapidly in the bountiful ocean feeding grounds. In early
summer of their maturing year they begin to head back to their home streams, navigating
by their simply incredible sense of smell.
When reaching freshwater they
struggle, often for weeks or months, against rapids, falls, obstructions in the
form of fallen logs and rocks until, bruised and travel-worn they reach the placid
waters of the spawning river where they were born. The female digs a redd, in
the gravel, hollowing out a cavity up to 18 inches deep. She prefers a place in
a riffle, where the fast-running water will provide an ample supply of oxygen
for the eggs. When the redd is ready, which may be weeks after the spawner has
reached the gravel beds, the female lays her eggs. Up to 15,000 eggs are deposited
in the gravel, and soon after, the male fertilizes them by covering them with
a milky substance known as milt.
With spawning over, the salmon's life
is complete, and within a short time it dies, and the body in turns nourishes
In the ocean, the Sockeye, Pinks and Chums feed primarily
on plankton and crustaceans such as tiny shrimp, while chinook and coho eat smaller
fish, making them vulnerable to commercial and sports fishermen using bait such
as herring. Sockeye and Chinook are the most hardy of the family, travelling as
far as 1,000 miles upstream to spawn. Chums, Coho and
Pinks usually spawn closer to the sea.
If you need more information, have a question or need a guide service on southern
Vancouver Island, we're at www.ex-stream.com.
Pacific Salmon Spawn - The Return of the Salmon