- Stream, Inlets & Lakes
- Frogs, Toads & Salamanders
- Marine Creatures
- Puget Sound Sea Life
- Non‐Native ‐ Invasive Wildlife
Pacific salmon are amazing animals with life traits that are unusual and fascinating, and provide a unique niche in both freshwater and saltwater habitats.
Test Your Knowledge About Pacific Salmon!
- All Pacific salmon die after spawning.
True. Pacific salmon reproduce one time and then die after spawning. This life history trait is called semelparity (although steelhead can return to the ocean and their spawning grounds more than once, which is called iteroparity). This trait is unusual for an animal so large, and is more common among insect species. By dying in freshwater after spawning, salmon bring the rich nutrients of the ocean to the forest and provide a boost of nutrition to the ecosystem to help their offspring.
- Pacific salmon feed and grow very fast in the Pacific Ocean..
True. Pacific salmon leave their freshwater birth place and swim towards the ocean and remain there for one to five years (and sometimes longer). The Deschutes hatchery Chinook are released as fry weighing approximately 1/10 of an ounce. On average, they will return to the Deschutes after three years weighing around 25 pounds. This is a 4,000 time increase in weight.
- Salmon keep eating until they spawn.
False. On their return journey to their home stream, the Pacific salmon stop eating. They also change color and body shape. Their bodies make milt or eggs, and they start to make physiological changes to survive in freshwater.
- Pacific salmon return to freshwater to spawn; most will return to the stream or river they were born in.
True. Returning to freshwater to spawn is called anadromy; returning to their birth place is called homing. Some individual fish may stay in freshwater. This has been noticed in male Chinook. Some salmon stray on the way back to their home stream. Straying allows new streams and rivers to be colonized after a natural disaster and diversifies the gene pool of an existing population.
- Females lay their eggs on plants in the river or stream.
False . A female painstakingly locates a place on the stream bottom that has properly sized gravel to bury her eggs in, cool water, with good water flow and oxygen. She uses her tail to dig a pit and spawns with a male, then buries her eggs with gravel, as she digs a new pit just upstream. The entire egg nest of multiple pits is called a redd.
- Name the 5 Pacific Salmon.
Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, Sockeye
- Which two salmon species tend to spawn in the lower reaches of streams and rivers?
Chum and Pink
- Which salmon species can grow to be the biggest?