FWS Focus

Overview

Characteristics
Overview

Chum salmon are an anadromous Pacific salmon species that spend their adult lives in the ocean and migrate from their marine environment back to their fresh water natal streams to spawn. Like other Pacific salmon, chum salmon reproduce only once and then die.

Scientific Name

Oncorhynchus keta
Common Name
chum salmon
FWS Category
Fishes
Kingdom

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers

TSN:

Characteristics

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Characteristics
Size & Shape

Chum salmon typically weigh between 6 - 15 pounds but can weigh up to 45 pounds. These salmon average 24 inches in length, but can reach up to 3.6 feet. They are second only in size to their Pacific salmon cousins, the chinook salmon. 

Color & Pattern

When chum salmon enter fresh water they undergo a dramatic morphological change. Both males and females develop a pattern of bold red and black tiger stripes. Juvenile chum salmon, before migrating to the ocean, exhibit a dark back and light belly coloration to prepare them for survival in the open water of the ocean. 

Characteristic category

Lifecycle

Characteristics
Lifecycle

Chum salmon are an anadromous Pacific salmon species that spend their adult lives in the ocean and migrate from their marine environment back to their freshwater natal streams to spawn. Like other Pacific salmon, chum salmon spawn only once and then die. During the ocean phase of their life history, chum salmon look remarkably similar to both coho and sockeye salmon. 

Juvenile chum salmon, before migrating to the ocean, exhibit a dark back and light belly coloration to prepare them for survival in the open water of the ocean. They seek deeper water and avoid light while their kidneys and gills undergo a transformation so that they can successfully inhabit the marine environment. 

Reproduction

Like other Pacific salmon, chum salmon spawn only once and then die.

Geography

Characteristics
Range

The range for chum salmon in the North Pacific includes Korea, Japan, Okhotsk and the Bering Sea, Artic Alaska, and south to San Diego California in the United States. They are also found in Asia in Iran.

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Timeline

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