Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Salmoniformes (Salmons)
Family: Salmonidae (Salmonids)
Subfamily: Salmoninae

 Genus/Species: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

Chinook Salmon aka King Salmon14630212572_bab25a96d9_b

 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Largest species in the Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus) genus. Max length :150 cm.(59 inches). Max wt. 64 kg (140 pounds). They average 10 to 50 pounds (4.5 to 22.7 kg.
Small black spots on the back and on the upper and lower lobes of the caudal fin, and the black gums of the lower jaw. In the sea are dark greenish to blue-black on top of head and back, silvery to white on the lower sides and belly; numerous small, dark spots along back and upper sides and on both lobes of caudal; gum line of lower jaw black.
In fresh water, with the approach of the breeding condition, the fish change to olive-brown, red or purplish,

Chinook Salmon 14444106928_8b07130949_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT:, Native areas include Alaska, Canada, northwestern USA, Russia, and Japan. Introduced in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and the Great Lakes along the USA-Canada border. Found in marine, freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic. (swim just above the seabed at depths below about 200 m, 650 feet (the edge of the continental shelf). Benthopelagic river fish are found near the bottom of the water column, feeding on benthos and zooplankton

DIET IN THE WILD: Young may feed on insects and crustaceans. Adults feed primarily on other fishes.

 REPRODUCTION: Onset of fertility 4.0 years. At breeding time, the head of the male is transformed into a ‘kype’, with a deformed, upturned jaw and a hooked nose. Anadromous (migrate from the sea into fresh water to spawn; or, ones that stay entirely in fresh water and migrate upstream to spawn). May also spawn in lakes.
Max age 9yrs.

 PREDATORS: Young are preyed upon by fishes and birds (such as mergansers and kingfishers); adults are prey of large mammals and large birds.

 CONSERVATION: IUCN not evaluated

 REMARKS: The Alaska Salmon fishery of this species has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as well-managed and sustainable.

Color of Life note: The salmon’s  rich marine diet gives them their iconic pink hue. Farmed salmon raised on manufactured, aquaculture feed (pellets) tend to have a gray tone. The color pattern of salmon demonstrates countershading, where the dark back and light belly allows the fish to blend into the darker water when seen from above and into the lighter sky when seen from below.

Reference: Shepherd, B. 2015. Color of Life Public Engagement and Education presentation. California Academy of Sciences. March 26, 2015.

 California Coastal Marine


Margarita Upton, Biologist II
Steinhart Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences

Ron’s flickr pro




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