(Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) Male Pink Salmon ("humpie") in spawning phase, photographed in the Atnarko River, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

Daily Creature 106: Pink Salmon

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(Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) Male Pink Salmon ("humpie") in spawning phase, photographed in the Atnarko River, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.

Pink Salmon

(Oncorhynchus gorbuscha)

The Pink Salmon is the smallest species of salmon in the Pacific Ocean. It is also the most abundant. If you’ve ever eaten canned salmon, you’ve probably eaten a Pink Salmon. Pink Salmon account for about half of all salmon caught in Alaskan fisheries where they are considered to be well managed and stable.

I photographed this Pink farther south in the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park of British Columbia. The large hump on its back means it’s a male. They develop the hump during the spawning season, hence the nickname “humpies”.

Pink Salmon have the shortest lifespan of all Pacific Salmon species: only two years. All Pink operate on this strict two year schedule. This means that even-year spawners are a genetically distinct population from salmon that spawn in odd-years! They never mix! In the southern part of their range, around Washington state, the odd-year population is much larger than the even-year population. For example, in 2009 Washington fishermen brought in 17 million pounds of Pink Salmon, while in 2010 the total harvest was only 12,000 pounds! (Source: fishwatch.gov)

Salmon return from the ocean to spawn in the same creek in which they were born. But the exposure to freshwater causes them to die soon after. There they become food for many other species of animals. Bears, wolves, eagles and ravens drag the bodies up into the forests where they decompose and become food for the trees! Watch some pink salmon in action in our video about Camera Trapping in the Great Bear Rainforest near Nimmo Bay as well as in this video about the Great Bear Chalet in Tweedsmuir.

Photo: Male Pink Salmon (“humpie”) in spawning phase in the Atnarko River, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. Shot with a GoPro HD Hero2.

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