FUN FISH FACTS
Former SCEP student holding a coho salmon.
- Pacific Salmon live to spawn one time—after that, they die. In contrast, steelhead can migrate to and from the ocean and spawn more than once.
- Chinook salmon are also known as "Tyee" or "King" salmon.
- The largest Chinook salmon on record was caught in Alaska and weighed 126 pounds.
- Fish secrete mucus, slime coating, to protect it against parasites & disease, cover wounds & prevent infection, and to move faster through the water.
- The gravel nest that a female salmon creates with her tail is called a "redd."
- The shape of a redd creates a natural baffle that causes upwelling water currents, bringing oxygen to eggs.
- A female Chinook salmon can lay up to 7,000 eggs.
- 10% to 20% of fertilized wild eggs survive through early life stages in the wild, 80% to 100% in a hatchery.
- Salmon eggs come with their own self-contained food source—their yolk
- The mottled coloring of fry matches their stream environment, camouflaging them from predators.
- Fish don't have ears. They hear or feel vibrations along the lateral line of their bodies.
- As fingerlings mature into smolts, their bodies turn a shiny silver color that provides better camouflage in the open ocean.
- Smolts migrate downstream tail first—scientists are not sure why. One theory is that oxygen rich water can more easily flow into the gills of the fish; or maybe salmon orient themselves based on their natural instinct to swim upstream.
- In saltwater, fish drink constantly and rarely urinate. In fresh water, fish rarely drink and urinate constantly. This maintains the salt balance in their bodies.
- After reaching the ocean, a salmon can double its weight in just one summer.
- Over 20 species of animals, such as bears and eagles, eat spawned-out salmon carcasses; the carcasses bring ocean nutrients and minerals to the terrestrial world, thus nourishing the watershed.
- Fossils show that fish existed over 400 million years ago.
- Only about 1% of all Earth’s water is fresh water.
- Scientists can tell how old a fish is by reading the growth rings on the fish scales. (almost like counting tree rings)
- A person who studies fish is called an ichthyologist.
- Steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species, but rainbow trout are freshwater fish only, while steelhead are anadromous, meaning they go out to sea.
- Salmon have teeth on the roof of their mouth, tongue, jaws and throat. These help prevent prey from escaping.
Fun Fish Facts comes from a variety of sources, including FWS publications