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Species - Salmon

Status

Salmon numbers have fallen drastically in the last 100 years. A great deal of research has been carried out and bodies such as the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation have campaigned internationally to promote the sympathetic management of salmon stocks. Unfortunately salmon numbers have not responded as hoped.

Habitats

Where to see

Salmon (Salmo salar)

Salmon are a beautiful looking fish with a remarkable life cycle. During autumn and winter the adult Salmon lay eggs. The females form a depression in the gravel on the river bed using a digging action with her tail, these depressions are called ‘redds’. She lays some of her eggs in the redd and the male fertilizes them, she then moves upstream slightly and forms another redd. The gravel and sand that is stirred up is carried downstream by the river current and falls to cover the eggs in the previous redd. The eggs hatch the following spring, the newly hatched salmon are called aelvins. The aelvins stay in the gravel for a while living off their still attached yolk sac, once the yolk is depleted they move out of the gravel and start to feed in the river as salmon fry.  The fry feed and grow and after a year they are considered to be salmon par, recognizable by the finger print markings running down their sides.

Over a period of two-three years the par continue to develop and grow and eventually lose the finger print markings and turn silver in colour. The salmon are now smolts and it is at this point that they start making their way down river to the sea. The salmon remain at sea for one-four years feeding in cold northern waters before returning to the river of their birth to spawn. The swim upstream to the spawning areas is exhausting and the spawning itself is a depleting process. Salmon that have spawned are called kelts and if they survive long enough they once again return to the sea. It is only a very small percentage of kelts that manage to return to spawn again however, most die after spawning.

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