Many times I have had the opportunity to watch the salmon spawning. They move in from the oceans, miraculously back to the place where they were born. The colors of the fish change from the lovely silvery color to shades of black and red. After spawning they die, washing up along the rocks at the sides of the rivers. There are also hatcheries which help in the reproduction of salmon, providing ladders for the fish to go up, where they head in to tanks and do their thing. The next years fish are also contained before they are released out to sea. So, let’s take a look at this cycle beginning with the fish going up a river, and then to the hatchery! Be sure to watch the video at the end!
Here is a shot of a healthy salmon before spawning. They are silver in color before they head into fresh water to spawn.
Once they head upstream and into the fresh water they lose this color as their bodies get ready for spawning. Standing along a bridge near the mouth of the river, I capture a number of shots of the salmon. Their colors have changed. See if you can spot the salmon in the water in these next shots.
Three spawning salmon
Five spawning salmon
Ten spawning salmon
Here is a shot of the salmon from the above photo a bit closer…
Close in on some of the ten
We headed to a hatchery, and the folks there help the salmon species to continue on. The salmon that head to this hatchery were born here. Along a river, they have set up a ladder to resemble the uphill climb. The fish head for this ladder.
This is the ladder at the hatchery
As the tide comes in the ladder fills up. Looking through a window set into the ladder you can see the fish…
Going up the ladder
Once they hit the top of the ladder, the fish go into holding tanks. There is a mechanism that sorts the fish by size. Here are some of the salmon in the holding tank. There are a lot of them!
Before spawning at the hatchery
Here they will collect the eggs and sperm and raise the babies. Here are the babies…
Out in the wild, the male salmon go through a number of phases in their spawning process. They develop humps on their back, and their mouths enlarge to create a hook at the snout. Both male and female, when they enter the fresh water they both stop drinking, relying on a gland in their bodies that has stored salt so that they do not get dehydrated.
Here is a salmon heading upstream! You can already see the color change on the fish. From the hump and the curved snout this appears to be a male.
The male is the first to arrive at the spawning ground and mark off their territory where the gravel is not too small and not too large. When the female arrives she uses her body to create what is called a “redd.” This is a depression in the gravel and will become the nest for the eggs. With her body she signals the male that she is ready to lay her eggs. The males fight and it is the dominant male that gets to spawn with the female. Swimming side to side she releases her eggs and he releases his sperm. The sperm, called milt, mixes with the eggs. They do this again a bit farther up the stream and the gravel she moves covers over the eggs and sperm from the first batch.
The male dies fairly quickly after spawning is done, and the female hangs around for a couple of weeks by her nests, and then finally dies off, and her body gets carried downstream. Here are two salmon who have done their job, their bodies have floated downstream. They don’t smell to good either!
They have done their job!
Here is a quick video that I took of the spawning salmon, the river and the little babies. Click on the link, and then on the button at the bottom right to enlarge to full screen. The sound you hear is natural sound and was not dubbed in to the film.
Well, this got to be a lengthy blog! Thanks for stopping by and for hanging in there to read this thanks! Be well! ^..^
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