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Salmons: Salmoniformes

Atlantic Salmon (salmo Salar): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Atlantic salmon weigh 7 to 12 pounds (3 to 5 kilograms) and are about 30 inches (76 cm) long, although the record is 4 feet, 5 inches (1.3 meters), 79 pounds (36 kilograms). The body is covered with black spots. In saltwater Atlantic salmon are blue-green overlaid with a silvery coating. They lose the silvery coat to become greenish or reddish brown mottled with red or orange in freshwater.

Geographic range: Atlantic salmon live on both sides of the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean and in rivers and lakes of the bordering land.

Habitat: Young Atlantic salmon live in freshwater. Adults live in saltwater except to spawn. These fish live in rocky runs and pools of large and small rivers as well as in lakes.

Diet: Young Atlantic salmon feed on mollusks (MAH-lusks), or animals with a soft, unsegmented body usually covered by a hard shell; crustaceans; insects; and fishes. Adults at sea feed on squid, shrimp, and fish.

Behavior and reproduction: Atlantic salmon are mostly active during the day. After living in freshwater for one to six years, Atlantic Young Atlantic salmon live in freshwater. Adults live in saltwater except to spawn. (Illustration by John Megahan. Reproduced by permission.) salmon migrate to the ocean, where they stay for one to four years before returning to their home river to spawn. The female selects a spawning site and digs a hole by turning on her side and flexing her body up and down, producing a current and never touching the bottom. Once the female releases her eggs, all males release their sperm, the greatest number of eggs being fertilized by the first male that enters the nest.

Atlantic salmon and people: Atlantic salmon are valued for their meat.

Conservation status: Atlantic salmon are not threatened or endangered. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesSalmons: Salmoniformes - Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Chinook Salmon (oncorhynchus Tshawytscha): Species Accounts, Atlantic Salmon (salmo Salar): Species Accounts - PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS, GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, SALMONS AND