My Scientific Name
By the Numbers
We are usually 28 to 30 inches long, and weigh 8 to 12 pounds; however, people have reported catching us weighing over 100 pounds.
How to Identify Me
We are bright and silvery with a brown and blue-green back, and a white belly. Our upper body, head and fins sometimes have small black crosses and spots, or red and blue spots when we are young. Males can become more green or red when they are ready to spawn. We have a small adipose fin between our dorsal and tail fins.
Why I Matter and What's Been Happening
People say we are delicious to eat! We are very nutritious and a valuable food source for many animals. Hundreds of thousands of us used to migrate from the Atlantic Ocean to the rivers where we hatched to spawn new generations of salmon (Figure 1). Only small numbers of us return to North America now, mostly to Maine and eastern Canada. Our numbers are very low primarily due to dams and overfishing. Some of us have been “landlocked” in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain since the retreat of the glaciers, and we do not migrate out to the ocean.
Our Gulf of Maine population (Figure 3) is endangered. People are helping us by removing or modifying dams so we can reach our spawning grounds. And our smaller numbers are being supplemented by national fish hatcheries. We are fished by commercial fisherman out in the ocean, but no recreational or commercial fishing is allowed once we have returned to our rivers in the United States. Fishing for landlocked Atlantic salmon is allowed.