Latin Name: Oncorhynchus gorbuscha
Silvery juvenile pinks lack the dark
vertical parr marks of other salmon
species. Ocean-going adults have a
metallic blue back, silver sides,
white belly and many large black spots
on the back and tail fin.
Spawning males darken to brown-black
or grayish and develop a prominent
hump on the back. Spawning females
are olive green with dusky bars. Average
weight: 1.5-2.25 kilograms, average
length: 50-65 centimetres.
Pacific and Arctic Oceans, Bering
Sea, Okhotsk Sea, Sea of Japan (East
Sea). Streams and
of Japan and Russia, and from California
north to the Mackenzie River. Principal
spawning area between Puget Sound,
Washington and Bristol Bay, Alaska.
Introduced to Great Lakes.
History: Two-year life span.
Spawns in streams or tidal flats
close to ocean, fry move immediately
downstream to rich ocean feeding
areas. Returns to nearshore to spawn
after eighteen months at sea.
of Coastal Waters: Although
spawning males of many salmon species
develop a characteristic hooked
nose and humped back, the pinks
large, high hump is particularly
prominent. Hence the nickname, humpy.
Fish, Big Catch: Pink salmon
may be the smallest of the Pacific
salmon, but they are the most abundant,
spawning in North American and Asian
streams bordering both the Atlantic
and Pacific oceans. Pinks make up
more than half of the West Coast
commercial salmon harvest, and in
some areas, are known as the "bread
and butter fish.
Behaviour: Pinks have the
most regular life cycle of any salmon
species. In a fixed life span of
only two years, pinks head to saltwater
soon after hatching, and return
to spawn close to the sea. (No big
acrobatic leaps over upstream raging
rapids for this diminutive fish.).
Pink cycles are so predictable that
fish spawning in odd-numbered calendar
years are isolated from even-year
Sensitivity: Upstream migration
of pink salmon may be halted if
hydrocarbon concentrations in the
water reach 1-10 parts per billion!