Worldwide, salmon are probably the most important of all the fish species. Salmon species are vital both to the natural and the human food chains of the world’s two major ocean systems. In addition, the trout division of the salmon family is a major staple in the freshwater regions of the interior of North America, Europe, and Northern Asia. Salmon are probably the most reliably delicious of all the species of fish, and thus their popularity in cuisine has continued long after the need to gather them as a staple has subsided. Millions of salmon are fished from oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams every year both commercially and recreationally. Let’s take a look at the species of salmon.
Click on the name’s at the top of this page or below to learn more about each species!
In the Atlantic Ocean, there is really only one type of salmon, and it is known simply as the Atlantic Salmon. It is one of the few species of salmon that does not die after spawning; individuals of other species die right after their upriver trips are done. While this is not always the case for Atlantics, they do have a high die-off percentage after spawning. Some scientists estimate it is over 50% and because of this they grow to be the largest of all salmon.
This species is also the kind that is most likely to be found in aquaculture operations both on the east and west coast of the continent. One species of Atlantic salmon is land-locked, and is thus considered a freshwater variety. These fish are found all over the Northern Hemisphere.
The Pacific Ocean has the largest variety of salmon species. There are at least six distinct species living in all parts of the Pacific, from North America to Russia and Japan.
Chinook are the largest Pacific species, and are also known as springs, tyees, black mouth’s and chubs. It is the least populous of the species, although it can be found from California to Alaska and west as far as Russia and Japan.
Sockeye are also known as Red or blueback salmon. These salmon are unique in that while they live in the ocean, they exclusively eat plankton (other species eat smaller fish).This variety also can be found from California to the Arctic, and east to Hokkaido in Japan and Siberia in Russian.
Chum are the most widely dispersed of the Pacific species. They are found both further south in California and further north in Canada than the other species. They are also found in parts of Siberia. Silvery green in color, the salmon appear yellow when spawning. They are also known as dog’s or Keta salmon.
Coho are also known as silver salmon, and this is the color they have in the ocean phase. When spawning, they are spotted and darker in color sometimes almost black in later stages. They are also found throughout northern Pacific waters, with larger populations around Alaska and British Columbia. Once in freshwater systems they can become “shy” making for a very challenging catch.
Pink salmon have the largest population of these species. They are also known as humpback salmon because of their appearance. Pink salmon in their natural range have a strict two year life cycle, so odd- and even-year populations do not interbreed. They run to the river every other year.
Cherry (Seema) salmon have the smallest range of the Pacific salmon species, found only in Japan, Russia, and Korea, as well as in some land-locked locations.
Steelhead, Cutthroat and Kokanee
In addition to the saltwater salmon species, there are several varieties of freshwater salmon such as the Kokanee and Rainbow (Steelhead). Kokanees are actually the land-locked version of the sockeye, where as steelhead run to and from the ocean. As mentioned, trout are a (mostly) freshwater division of the salmon family and we’ve included Cutthroat for the die-hard sports angler.
Steelhead salmon are commonly known as trout, but in fact they are a species of salmon native to the Pacific region. Land locked steelheads are also known as rainbow trout; in fact that is their common name.
Cutthroat trout have long been a staple of the sport fishing community, especially among fly fishers. This is the reason that we feel it’s important to include this special trout in our directory! These trout are often found in the same waters as some pacific salmon, making it important to identify them when caught.
Huchen (Danube) are not saltwater running salmon that migrate to and from saltwater, but rather freshwater residents and interesting none-the-less!
Australian Salmon may be confused for salmonid due to their name, but don’t even belong to the family and are actually members of the perch family.
If you would like to learn more about each species such as Atlantic Salmon, click on the hypertext or go to the top of the page to find out more about the species you’re interested in.