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Fish Facts  »  Pink Salmon


In the ocean, pink salmon are bright silver fish. After returning to their spawning stream, their coloring changes to pale grey on the butt with yellowish white belly (although some turn an overall dull green color). As with all salmon, in addition to the dorsal fin they also have an adipose fin. The fish is characterized by a white mouth with black gums, no teeth on the tongue, large oval-shaped black spots on the back and v-shaped tail, and an anal fin with 13-17 soft rays. During their spawning migration, males develop a pronounced humped back, hence their nickname "humpies".


Pink salmon are coldwater fish with a preferred temperature range of 5.6 to 14.6°C, an optimal temperature of 10.1°C, and an upper incipient lethal temperature of 25.8°C.


They feed on larval insects, copepods, crustacean larvae, and other invertebrates.


The commercial harvest of pink salmon is a mainstay of fisheries of both the eastern and western North Pacific; over 100 million have been taken in recent annual harvests in Alaska alone. More than 20 million harvested pink salmon are produced by fishery-enhancement hatcheries, particularly in the northern Gulf of Alaska. Pink salmon are not grown in significant numbers in fish farms. The fish are often canned, smoked or salted. Pink salmon roe is also produced commercially for caviar, a particularly valuable product in Asia. Most pink salmon are taken with purse seines, drift nets or gillnets.


Pink salmon average 4.8 pounds (2.2 kg) in weight. The maximum recorded size was 30 inches (76 cm) and 15 pounds (6.8 kg).


The species is native to Pacific and Arctic coastal waters from the Sacramento River in northern California to the Mackenzie River in Canada; and in the west from the Lena River in Siberia to Korea. Populations in Asia occur as far south as Hondo Island in Japan. Pink salmon were introduced into the Great Lakes; this is the only location where they have been successfully introduced into an entirely fresh water environment. In the Great Lakes, they are most common in Lake Superior but are rare in Lake Michigan.



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