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Chinook Salmon


Scientific Name:

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha


Pacific Salmon


Pacific Salmon Subspecies

Also known as:

King salmon, Kippered salmon, Locks,  Quinnat, Blackmouth

The Chinook salmon  (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is the largest species of Pacific salmon as well as the largest in the genus Oncorhynchus. Its common name is derived from the Chinookan peoples.

Chinook salmon are the largest Pacific salmon species and, on average, grow to be three feet (0.9 meters) long and approximately 30 pounds (13 kilograms). However, some Chinook salmon can reach more than five feet (1.5 meters) long and 110 pounds (50 kilograms).

The salmon are blue-green on the head and back and silver on the sides. The fish’s tail, back, and upper fin have irregular black spots, and black markings also are present around the gums. Male Chinook salmon have a distinctive hooked nose at the top of the mouth and a ridged back. During the mating season, both male and female salmon develop a reddish tint around their back fins and tail.

Chinook salmon live in the colder upper reaches of the Pacific Ocean and breed in the freshwater rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest. Their range includes the coasts of Alaska, western Canada, Oregon, Idaho, Washington State, and northern California. Chinook salmon have been introduced into numerous water bodies, including the Great Lakes. Outside of the United States, Chinook salmon can be found in Russian and Japanese waters.

These salmon utilize many different habitats throughout their lives. Adults lay eggs in fast-moving freshwater streams and rivers. Juvenile salmon spend some time in the freshwater streams before moving to estuaries with a mix of freshwater and saltwater. As the salmon reach adulthood, they move out into the open ocean.

Young Chinook salmon like to eat insects and small crustaceans, particularly amphipods. Adult salmon dine mostly on other fish.

Chinook Salmon - by Animal Diversity Web

Chinook Salmon - by USGS

Chinook Salmon - by US Fish & Wildlife Service

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