Pink Salmon

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Game Fish Species of British Columbia

Pink Salmon

Pink Salmon

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha or Pink, Humpback Salmon, Humpie

DESCRIPTION - The most numerous of salmon a Pink Salmon is usually about 18-24 inches long reaching an average weight of 3-5 pounds with a conical head and small eyes. In breeding males the snout of the Pink Salmon is greatly extended and turned down at the tip; the lower jaw is enlarged and unable to close with sharp teeth on both jaws. Also he has a large hump before the dorsal fin whereas the female changes little except in color. A steel-blue to blue-green with large black dots and silver sides characterize the coloring. A less brilliant yet similar color is in permanent freshwater pinks.

DISTRIBUTION - The Pink Salmon can be found in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans, the Bering and Okholsk Seas and the Sea of Japan. Young and spawning adults are found in most tributary rivers of North America and North East Asia.

BIOLOGY - From June to September adult Pink Salmon can be found migrating from the sea into freshwater anywhere from 40 to 300 miles upstream. Spawning takes place from mid-July to late October. The female prepares the nest or redd where she lays and average of 1500-1900 orange-red colored eggs. She guards her nest as long as able but the spawning adults die in a few days or weeks. Hatching occurs from late December to late February. The average lifespan of a Pink Salmon is two years; generally they return to the river they were hatched in to spawn. The diet of these salmon consists of euphausiids, amphipods and a variety of fish and squid. Assorted stream fish prey upon the young pink salmon including cutthroat and rainbow trout, Dolly Varden, coho salmon smolts and squawfish. Also predaceous birds account for the loss of a number of small fry.

RELATION TO MAN - Prior to 1911 Pink Salmon were considered less desirable by commercial and sport fisherman. But due to wartime food requirements and the decrease of other salmon as a result of a slide in the Fraser River the total annual catch increased drastically and continues to be strong.

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