Pink Salmon or Humpback Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)


Juveniles: No parr marks or spots. Sides silvery, back iridescent greenish-blue.

Adults: Steel blue to blue-green on dorsal surface, sides silver and ventral surface white. Back, upper sides, adipose fin and both lobes of the caudal fin marked with black oblong spots. Length approximately 24 inches.

Spawning adults: Males are darker on the head and back, sides are pale red to yellow with brown to olive green blotches. The snout becomes elongate and hooked, and a prominent hump develops behind the head. Females are olive green with dusky stripes on the sides of the body.

Life History: All anadromous. Maturing fish generally migrate to inshore regions (bays and estuaries of small streams and nearshore waters) from June to September. Entry into the stream and spawning occurs between late July and October. Pink salmon have a fixed two-year life span, meaning that those fish that spawn in the same river system but in odd and even years are reproductively isolated from each other. Some river systems may have a dominant run in only the even or the odd years, for example, the Fraser River has an odd-year run while the Queen Charlotte Island has an even-year run, or they may have a smaller off-year run or runs in both cycles. The female selects the redd site, with the spawning beds generally being fairly uniform and on riffles with clean gravel. This species particularly avoids quiet waters when spawning. She then digs the nest(s) and lays her eggs which are simultaneously fertilized by the male. Both females and males die after spawning is completed. Fecundity is usually between 1200 to 1900 eggs per female. After emergence, the fry migrate quickly out to sea where they remain for eighteen months before returning again to spawn.

Feeding: The fry feed on planktonic crustaceans and insects. Ocean individuals feed on euphausiids, amphipods, other fish, squid, copepods and pteropods.


Groot, C and Margolis, L. Eds. 1991. Pacific Salmon Life Histories. UBC Press. Vancouver, B.C.

Juvenile fish id key. 1995. The Streamkeepers Handbook: a Practical Guide to Stream and Wetland Care. Community Involvement Division, Salmonid Enhancement Program, Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Vancouver, B.C.

Scott, W and Crossman, E. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Bulletin 184. Ottawa, Ontario.

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