Pink salmon for many decades it has been an important target of fishing, has captured a leading position in terms of catch volumes among all salmon. Having excellent taste, nutritional characteristics of meat and caviar, combined with a relatively low cost, this type of fish is in constant demand in the global food market.
Origin of view and description
Photo: Pink Salmon
Pink salmon is a typical representative of the salmon family, characterized by its relatively small size and high abundance in the cold waters of the oceans and seas. Refers to anadrobic fish, which are characterized by reproduction in fresh waters, and living in the seas. Pink salmon got its name due to a peculiar hump on the back of males, which forms with the onset of the spawning period.
The oldest ancestor of pink salmon today was small and resembled freshwater grayling that lived in the cold waters of North America more than 50 million years ago. The next three tens of millions of years did not leave any noticeable traces of the evolution of this species of salmon fish. But in the ancient seas, from 24 to 5 million years ago, representatives of all the salmon-like species that exist today, including pink salmon, were already found.
Interesting fact: When born, all pink larvae are females, and just before the sea rolls into the waters, half of them change their sex to the opposite. This is one of the ways of struggle for existence, which nature provided this type of fish. Since females are more resilient due to the characteristics of the organism, thanks to this “transformation” a greater number of larvae will survive until the moment of migration.
Now you know what pink salmon fish looks like. Let’s see where it lives and what it eats.
Appearance and features
Photo: What does pink salmon look like
Pink salmon has a characteristic elongated body shape, characteristic of all salmonids, slightly compressed on the sides. The conical head is small in size with small eyes, while the head of males is longer than that of females. The jaws, lingual and palatine bones, the pink salmon vomer are strewn with small teeth. Scales easily fall off the surface of the body, very small.
The back of the ocean pink salmon has a blue-green color, the sides of the carcass are silvery, the abdomen is white. Upon returning to the spawning grounds, pink salmon becomes pale gray, and the lower part of the body acquires a yellow or greenish tint, dark spots appear. Right before spawning, the color darkens significantly, and the head becomes almost black.
The body shape of the females remains unchanged, while the males significantly change their appearance:
- the head lengthens;
- a number of large teeth appear on the elongated jaw;
- a rather impressive hump grows on the back.
Pink salmon, like all representatives of the salmon family, has a fat fin located between the dorsal and caudal fins. The average weight of an adult pink salmon is about 2.5 kg and a length of about half a meter. The largest specimens weigh 7 kg each with a body length of 750 cm.
Distinctive features of pink salmon:
- this species of salmon has no teeth on the tongue;
- the mouth is white and dark oval spots on the back are present;
- the caudal fin is V-shaped.
Where does pink salmon live?
Photo: Pink salmon in water
Pink salmon are found in large quantities in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean:
- along the Asian coast - from the Bering Strait to Peter the Great Bay;
- along the American coast - to the capital of California.
This species of salmon lives off the coast of Alaska, in the Arctic Ocean. There are pink salmon in Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, Anadyr, the Sea of Okhotsk, Sakhalin, and so on. It is found in Indigirka, the lower reaches of the Kolyma all the way to Verkhne-Kolymsk, it does not go high in Amur, and does not occur in Ussuri. The largest herds of pink salmon live on the server of the Pacific Ocean, where during feeding, the American is mixed with the Asian herd. Pink salmon can be found even in the waters of the Great Lakes, where a small number of individuals fell by chance.
Pink salmon spend only one summer season and winter at sea, and in the middle of the second summer they go to the rivers for subsequent spawning. Large individuals are the first to leave the waters of the seas; gradually, during the course of migration, the size of fish decreases. Females arrive at the spawning site later than males, and by the end of August, the pink salmon run stops and only fry return to the sea.
Interesting fact: The most impressive representative of the ancient salmon family is the extinct "saber-toothed salmon", which weighed more than two centners with a length of about 3 meters and had five centimeter fangs. With its rather formidable appearance and impressive size, he was not a predator, and fangs were only part of the "mating outfit."
Pink salmon feels great in cold waters with temperatures from 5 to 15 degrees, the most optimal - about 10 degrees. If the temperature rises to 25 and above - pink salmon dies.
What does pink salmon eat?
Photo: pink salmon fish
Adult individuals actively eat mass groups of plankton, nekton. In deep-sea areas, the diet consists of juvenile fish, small fish, including anchovies, squid. Close to the pink salmon plume, it can completely pass to feeding by the larvae of benthic invertebrates and fish. Right before spawning, the fish reflexes disappear in the fish, the digestive system atrophies completely, but, despite this, the grasping reflex is still present in full, so fishing with the spinning rod can be quite successful during this period.
Interesting fact: It was noticed that in even years in Kamchatka and Amur pink salmon are smaller than in odd years. The smallest individuals have a weight of 1.4-2 kg and a length of about 40 cm.
Young growth feeds mainly on a variety of organisms, which abundantly live at the bottom of reservoirs, as well as plankton. After exiting from the river to the sea, small zooplankton becomes the basis for feeding young individuals. As they grow, the young migrates to larger representatives of zooplankton, small fish. Despite its small size compared to its relatives, pink salmon has a faster growth rate. Already in the first summer season, a young individual reaches a size of 20-25 centimeters.
Interesting fact: Due to the great commercial value of pink salmon, in the mid-twentieth century several attempts were made to acclimatize this species of salmon in rivers near the Murmansk coast, but they all ended in failure.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Pink Salmon
Pink salmon is not tied to a specific habitat; it can be hundreds of miles away from its place of birth. Her whole life is strictly subordinated to the call of procreation. The fish age is short - no more than two years, and it lasts from the appearance of the fry to the light until the first and last spawning in life. The banks of the river, where pink salmon go for throwing eggs, are literally littered with carcasses of dead adult individuals.
Being an anadrobic migratory fish, pink salmon walk in the waters of the seas, oceans and enter rivers for spawning. For example, pink salmon begins to swim in Amur immediately after ice melts, and by mid-June the surface of the river is simply teeming with the number of individuals. The number of males in the incoming flock prevails over females.
Pink salmon migrations are not as long and long as those of chum salmon. They occur in the period from June to August, while the fish do not rise high along the river, preferring to be located in the channel, in places with large pebbles and with the strongest movement of water. After spawning, the producers die.
All salmon, as a rule, have an excellent natural "navigator" and are able to return to their native waters with incredible accuracy. Pink salmon was unlucky in this regard - its natural radar is poorly developed and for this reason it sometimes brings it to places that are completely unsuitable for spawning or life. Sometimes the whole huge flock rushes into one river, literally filling it with their bodies, which naturally does not contribute to the normal spawning process.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Spawning pink salmon
Pink salmon eggs are laid in parts in a pre-prepared nest-depression at the bottom of the reservoir. She digs it with the help of the caudal fin and bury it with it, after the end of spawning and fertilization. In total, one female is capable of producing from 1000 to 2500 eggs. As soon as a portion of caviar is in the nest, the male carries out its fertilization. In the channel of the river there are always more males than females, this is due to the fact that each serving of eggs must be fertilized by a new male in order to transfer the genetic code and fulfill his life mission.
Larvae hatch in November or December, less often the process drags on until January. Being in the ground, they feed on the reserves of the yolk sac and only in May, leaving the spawning hillock, fry slide into the sea. More than half of the fry die during this journey, becoming prey for other fish and birds. During this period, young growth has a uniform silver color and a body length of only 3 centimeters.
Having left the river, pink salmon fry tend to the northern part of the Pacific Ocean and remain there until next August, thus, the life cycle of this fish species is two years and that is why there are two-year periodicity of changes in the number of this species of salmonids. The sexual maturity of pink salmon individuals occurs only in the second year of life.
Natural enemies of pink salmon
Photo: Female pink salmon
In the natural environment, pink salmon have more than enough enemies:
- caviar in large quantities is destroyed by other fish, such as char, grayling;
- fry do not mind eating gulls, wild ducks, predatory fish;
- adults are included in the usual diet of belugas, seals, herring sharks;
- in spawning grounds they are eaten by bears, otters, birds of prey.
Interesting fact: More than 37 percent of the world's Pacific salmon catches are pink salmon. The world catch of this species of fish in the eighties of the last century averaged 240 thousand tons per year. The share of pink salmon in the total salmon fishery in the USSR was about 80 percent.
In addition to enemies, pink salmon have natural competitors that can take on some of the usual food for salmon fish. In some circumstances, pink salmon itself can cause a decrease in the population of other fish species or even birds. Zoologists have noticed a connection between the growing population of pink salmon in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean and the decline in the number of thin-billed petrels in the southern part of the ocean. These species compete with each other for food in the north, where petrels stop for wintering. Therefore, in the year when the pink salmon population grows, the birds do not receive the required amount of food, as a result of which they die during their return to the south.
Population and species status
Photo: What does pink salmon look like
In the natural habitat, periodic significant fluctuations in the number of pink salmon are observed. Most often this happens due to the special cyclical nature of their life, natural enemies do not significantly affect the population of this species of salmon. There is no risk of pink salmon extinction, even despite the fact that it is the most important subject of fishing. The status of the species is stable.
In the North Pacific Ocean, the pink salmon population (during the years of its peak, depending on the reproduction cycle) has doubled in comparison with the seventies of the last century. This was influenced not only by natural growth, but also by the release of fry from incubators. Farms with a full cycle of growing pink salmon currently do not exist, which makes it even more valuable to the end user.
An interesting fact: Canadian scientists have found that the proximity of wild pink salmon spawning sites to farms for growing other salmon fish causes significant damage to the natural pink salmon population. The reason for the mass death of young animals is special salmon lice, which fry pick up from other members of the family during a stingray at sea. If the situation does not change, then after four years only 1 percent of the wild population of this species of salmon will remain in these areas.
Pink salmon - this is not just nutritious and tasty, as many inhabitants perceive this fish, meeting it on the shelves of fish shops, in addition to all, pink salmon is an incredibly interesting creature with its own special lifestyle and behavioral instincts, the main purpose of which is to follow the call for procreation, overcoming all obstacles.