Meet the Atlantic Salmon: An Ocean Fish Born in Fresh Waters

Atlantic Salmon pic

Atlantic Salmon

A retired executive who splits his time between his residence in Wyoming and Valdez, Alaska, Jeffery Fraser aided in the development of several successful businesses before his retirement in 2008. Jeffery Fraser spends much of his time in Alaska managing the Tsaina Lodge, which offers a variety of outdoor activities to guests, including fishing for Atlantic salmon.

Atlantic salmon are a migratory fish that grow to be between 28 and 30 inches long and can reach weights up to 12 pounds. As anadromous fish, most salmon spend approximately two to three weeks in freshwater rivers before migrating to ocean waters, where they spend another two to three years before returning to their natal waters to spawn. Spawning occurs in the early spring; female salmon lay their eggs in the gravel of riverbeds for fertilization by male salmon. The newly hatched baby salmon (called fry) remain buried in the gravel for about six weeks and emerge in mid-May to feed on plankton and small invertebrates.

Due to their migratory behaviors and geographic range, wildlife and fish departments face difficulty estimating exact population numbers for the Atlantic salmon. Their range includes the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in addition to fresh waters such as the Colorado River and the Great Lakes. Beaver ponds also make ideal habitats for juvenile salmon. A number of threats pose a risk to salmon populations, and despite conservation efforts, at least 14 small coastal rivers no longer support wild salmon.

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