Latin name

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha

Other names

King salmon, spring salmon, tyee, quinnat, tule, blackmouth, Sacramento River salmon, Columbia River salmon; French: saumon chinook, saumon royal; Japanese: masunosuke.


The body is elongated and somewhat compressed. The head is cone-shaped . It has a bluish or dark gray color on top for most of its life, which turns silvery on its sides and belly. There are black spots on the back, top of the sides, top of the head, and all fins, including the upper and lower half of the caudal fin. The coloration changes during the upstream migration. Spawning fish, depending on the location and degree of maturity, have a coloration from red to copper, from olive brown to almost black, and undergoes a radical metamorphosis. Males are more saturated in coloration than females and are distinguished by a "crested back" condition and a hooked nose or upper jaw known as a kip. Juveniles have 6 to 12 long, broad, well-developed marks that are separated by a lateral line, and have no spots on the dorsal fin. A distinctive feature is the black mouth and gums. A very similar coho salmon has a black mouth but white gums. Juveniles often have large dark spots on their bodies. Two ecological races are distinguished in America, spring and summer, with the young of the spring race remaining in the river all year, and the young of the summer race rolling out to sea before they are a year old.


In North America, it occurs naturally from San Luis Obispo County in Southern California to the Chukchi Sea area of Alaska. The greatest concentration is along the coast of British Columbia and Alaska. In Alaska, where it is a state fish, it is abundant from the southeast Panhandle to the Yukon River. Major populations return to the Yukon, the Kuskokwim, the Nushagak, the Susitna, the Kenai, the Copper, the Alsek, the Taku, and the Stikine Rivers. Important streams also occur in many small streams. Rarely occurs in the Arctic Ocean. Scientists estimate that there are over a thousand spawning populations of chinook salmon along the coast of North America. There is speculation that most North American chinook salmon do not stray more than 620 miles from their native river, and that fish from streams in western Alaska wander farther than other North American fish. Large numbers of fish are found relatively close to their shores as well as in distant offshore waters, and their depth preferences vary. Widespread Near the Asian Pacific coast, from Anadyr to the Amur, occasionally near the Commander Islands, rarely entering the Amur estuary to the mouth of the Amur River, noted near Hokkaido. It is successfully acclimatized in the waters of New Zealand and Chile.


The largest of the Pacific salmon. A migratory fish: lives in the sea, spawns in rivers.


This species is the largest of all Pacific salmon. Individual fish usually weigh more than 30 pounds in Alaska and British Columbia and 20 pounds elsewhere. The largest known specimen is a 126-pound fish caught in a fishing trap near Petersburg, Alaska, in 1949. The world record for sport fishing on all tackle is a 97-pound, 4-ounce fish caught in the Kenji River in Alaska in 1986. The longest-living fish of the Far East, salmon. Sexual maturity occurs in the fourth to seventh year, with males maturing earlier, which in rivers sometimes reach sexual maturity as early as the first year at 7.5-17.5 cm in length.

Life history and Behavior

Like all Pacific salmon species, it is an anadromous species. They hatch in freshwater rivers, spend part of their lives in the ocean, and then spawn in freshwater. Sea-run chinook salmon can become sexually mature from their second to seventh year of life. As a result, fish in any spawning stream can vary greatly in size. Chinook salmon often make extensive freshwater spawning migrations to reach their native streams in some large coastal river systems. Yukon River spawners on their way to the extreme headwaters in the Yukon Territory, Canada, travel more than 2,000 river miles in 60 days. The migration period to spawning rivers and streams varies greatly. One stream of chinook usually enters Alaska streams from May through July. Chinook salmon do not feed during their freshwater spawning migration, so their condition gradually worsens during the spawning period. During this time, they use stored body materials for energy and development of reproductive products. Each female lays between 3,000 and 14,000 eggs ( typically in the lower range) in several gravel nests that she excavates in relatively deep, moving water. Eggs typically hatch in late winter or early spring, depending on the timing of spawning and water temperature. The newly hatched fish, called juveniles, live in the gravel within a few weeks until they begin to gradually absorb food from the attached yolk sac. These juveniles, called fry, make their way through the gravel by early spring. Most juvenile chinook salmon remain in their native waters until the following spring, when they migrate to the ocean in their second year. These marine migrants are called shoals.

Food and feeding habits

Chinook salmon in the ocean feed on a variety of organisms, including herring, pilchards, sand lance, squid, and crustaceans. Salmon grow rapidly in the ocean and often double their weight in a single summer. Thus, they quickly develop large, chunky bodies. Young in rivers feed primarily on aquatic insects and their larvae, and in the sea on pelagic fish (herring, etc.). Fish that enter rivers to spawn do not feed.


In the upper reaches of the Kamchatka River, spawning lasts from late June to August, in the Bolshaya River basin - from mid-July to mid-August. For spawning, the chinook salmon chooses fast currents and rather deep places (1-1.5 m). Water temperature at spawning grounds is 8.8-12.5°С. In the rivers of America, spawning takes place in June and also in September-December. Fertility 4.6-14.3 thousand, on average 8.1 thousand eggs. Eggs are large: 5-7 mm in diameter. The fry in the Kamchatka River emerge from the ground in November-December and roll into the sea in early spring and summer. On the American side of the Pacific Ocean, in the rivers of British Columbia, the usual time for juvenile chinook salmon to roll off is summer, but there are known cases of rolling off in March, April, and May. The rolling period can last about 18 months. The stinging juveniles are 3.5-4 cm long, while the yearlings are 10 cm long. Two-year-olds (up to 14 cm) are also rolled.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Salmoniformes
Family Salmonidae
Genus Oncorhynchus
Species Salmoniformes
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 7
Maximum body weight, kg 61.2
Maximum length, cm 247
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Salmoniformes

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Salmon, Chinook

Tags: Salmon, Chinook