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Salmon

Salmon

Salmon

Salmon

Facts

LatinSalmo salar
Size150 cm
FoodFish, crustaceans, insects and worms
HabitatThe sea, rivers and lakes
IUCN

Least concern

LocationThe North Atlantic
Map

From stream to ocean… and back again

Salmon start their lives in rivers and streams. As they grow up, they migrate out into the ocean where they spend most of their lives. When they reach sexual maturity, they travel back into the flowing freshwater to breed.

Return home

When it is time for salmon to breed, they swim back to the brook where they grew up themselves. Therefore, each salmon population is genetically unique to the stream they grew up in. It is still not known for sure how salmon find their way back, but it is believed that they use their sense of smell.

Super jumper

To reach their spawning grounds, the salmon swim up streams and rivers. Here, they can jump waterfalls at heights of more than 3.5 metres. This is why the salmon’s scientific species name is salar, meaning jumper.

Builds nests

When salmon are ready to breed, the female makes a recess in the fine gravel of the brook by slapping powerfully with her tail. This is where she spawns her eggs. When the male has fertilised them, she covers the hole again. In this way, the eggs are well-protected.

Handsome guy

When salmon are ready to breed, the male salmon changes his appearance. He changes colour from silvery to dark with many spots and develops a large hook on the lower jaw which he uses to fight with the other males.

Salmon or trout?

Salmon and trout are closely related, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Salmon have a slimmer base of the tail, and its tail fin is V-shaped, as opposed to trout that have a more straight tail. Salmon only have spots above their lateral line, whereas trout also have spots underneath.

Here you can see the salmon above and the trout below. The arrows show differences between the two fish.

A Danish success story

Salmon have been close to extinction in Denmark, mainly due to man-made changes to streams which prevented salmon from reaching their spawning grounds. Fortunately, in the 1990s, we began recreating original salmon populations and restoring streams. Salmon is currently thriving in Denmark.


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