Fisheries Program
Northeast Region

Atlantic salmon sac fry. Credit: Haruka Fujimaki
Atlantic salmon sac fry. Credit: Haruka Fujimaki

Atlantic salmon kelts. Credit: USFWS
Atlantic salmon kelts. Credit: USFWS

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

Life History

The Atlantic salmon adult returns in spring to spawn in the freshwater stream where it hatched from an egg. In the fall, the female digs a nest in the stream gravel where she deposits the eggs. The male fertilizes the eggs. Then the female digs another nest or redd upstream from the first.  The gravel from the second redd buries the first. Eggs buried in the fall hatch in spring. Young salmon grow for about two years in the stream.  When they mature into smolts, they migrate to the sea where they feed and grow for another couple of years, before returning to spawn.


Greenland to Connecticut

Fun Facts

  • Atlantic salmon can live to spawn more than once.
  • Atlantic salmon can jump as high as 11 feet depending on the depth of the pool.
  • Atlantic salmon are listed as endangered in Maine but not in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire or Rhode Island.

More Information

Video about the Atlantic salmon life history

Atlantic salmon species profile (pdf - 1.00MB)

Atlantic salmon recovery framework presentation (pptx - 589KB)

Atlantic salmon recovery framework - August 2010 Draft (pdf - 5.45MB)

Back to Aquatic Species Profiles
Last updated: December 16, 2011
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