Terrestrial habitat along the shore of Snake river watershed in Middle Fork, WA

Whether you are fishing, watching, or learning about salmon we can all appreciate how unique they are!

Salmon are anadromous, which means they spend their adult life in the ocean then travel up stream (freshwater) to spawn and die. After spending months-years in rivers, salmon swim out to sea. This is when smolting begins and they turn silver (and eat lots of food).

Different species spend different times at sea and gain both food and nutrients:

  • Pink salmon: 18 months
  • Chinook: 8 years
  • Chum: 7 years
  • Sockeye: 2 years

So by they time salmon return to land they are sexually mature, large and fatty, and contain a LOT of nutrients. After they swim up river they spawn and die. But it’s not sad! They provide food for many terrestrial species (including bears) and enrich the land with nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) they accumulated from the ocean. Basically, they are nature’s fertilizer.