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Salmon Species

February 01, 2022

Salmon Species

Keystone species salmon belong to the family Salmonidae, anadromous, lives both in fresh and saltwater. To know more about salmon, please check our article, salmon fish.

This article is about the Salmon species and their general features,

Salmon Species:

The salmon has five common species named,

  • Chinook (King salmon)
  • Sockeye (Red salmon)
  • Chum (Dog salmon)
  • Pink (Humpy salmon)
  • Coho (Silver salmon)

Chinook/ King Salmon:

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, chinook salmon, is also known as king, chrome hog, blackmouth, quinnat salmon, tyee and is one of the largest species. King salmon is present from California to Alaska, northern Japan, the East Siberian Sea, Magadan Oblast.

Chinook salmon are red or blue-green, with a purple head and back. One of the distinctive features is the black gum line. Their typical diet is eel grass and seaweeds, insects, amphipods, and crustaceans.

Sockeye/ Red Salmon:

Oncorhynchus nerka sockeye salmon is an essential commercial salmon, commonly known as red salmon, blue-black salmon, and kokanee salmon. It is the third most common salmon species. In the United States, it is present in Idaho and Oregon. It is also present in the Columbia River, Anadyr River, Hokkaidō Island, Bathurst Inlet and Siberia.

Sockeye salmon is blue-black with silver linings; their body changes color to red after spawning while their heads become green. Zooplankton is their basic diet, and red salmon also eat aquatic animals like shrimps.

Chum/Dog Salmon:

Oncorhynchus keta, chum salmon, also known as keta salmon or dog salmon. After chinook salmon, they are also the largest among the species. They have widely distributed populations as they are present from Alaska to California in the United States and also present in Yukon River, Amur River, Mackenzie River, Japan, Bering seas, Korea, Okhotsk and British Columbia.

Dog salmon have a silvery blue-green deeper body with a pale belly and darker sides, while during spawning, their color changes to olive green and their belly also become darker. Insects and zooplankton are their primary diet. 

Pink/ Humpy Salmon:

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha pink salmon is the smallest salmon known as humpback or humpy salmon due to its large hump. It is native to Pacific waters and present in Korea, Japan, Siberia, Russia, California, Canada, Washington, Sans Francisco, Scotland, Norway

They have a silver color before spawning, but their body turns to grey white after spawning. Their distinctive feature is that they have an adipose fin in addition to dorsal fins. They have no teeth on their tongue and have black gums with white mouths. Plankton, small fish, invertebrates and zooplankton are their basic diet in different streams.

Coho/ Silver Salmon:

Oncorhynchus kisutch coho is the silver salmon or simply called silvers. They are the second least abundant salmon. They are commonly present in the North Pacific Ocean, Eastern Russia, California, Alaska, Denmark, Norway and Japan.

The distinctive feature of coho salmon is the white gum line and their jaw locked during spawning. They have silver sides with blue backs; in freshwater, they have bright-red sides, dark bellies, bluish-green heads and backs.

Be ready for salmon fishing and get information about the best salmon fishing spots from our article Where to go for Salmon Fishing in Alaska.


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