Animals / Fishes - All Types of Fish Species / Atlantic Salmon - Elaborate Life Cycle

Atlantic Salmon - Elaborate Life Cycle



Growing up to be almost 5 ft (1.5 m) long, the Atlantic salmon has also become known as any one of the following names: bay salmon, black salmon, caplin-scull salmon, fiddler, grilse, grilt, kelt, landlocked salmon, ouananiche, outside salmon, parr, Sebago salmon, silver salmon, slink, smolt, spring salmon or winnish. They are referred to as such where they are found all along the shorelines of the Northern Atlantic Ocean (there are also populations in the Pacific, but they were introduced).





Like most other fish, they feed predominantly on insects and invertebrates like mayflies, caddisflies, blackflies and stoneflies when in fresh water, but will feed on larger creatures like Arctic squid, sand eels, amphipods, Arctic shrimp, and sometimes herring when in salt water. They get a chance to live in both fresh, and salt water during it's lifetime, as it has a very interesting life cycle. They are hatched in fresh water rivers, and will stay there for up to eight years. During this time, known as the alevin stage, they will at first stay in the breeding ground to develop gills and learn to hunt. Next, they will enter the fry stage, where it grows large enough to leave the breeding ground in search of food; it will then enter the parr stage, where it will prepare to swim out to the ocean. During this stage, the salmon is most susceptible to predation, with nearly 40% being eaten by trout alone, and other being eaten by birds and other fish. Those that do survive, enter into the smolt stage and will swim out to the Atlantic on an ebb tide.


life cycle atlantic


During the one to four years that Atlantic salmon spend in the ocean, they will experience rapid growth, and grow large enough that their list of predators shrinks considerably. However, their chance of surviving to make the trek back to their birthplace is still only between 14 and 53%. When they are ready to return to their original river, they have entered the grilse stage, where it is believed they use the chemical signature of their old home to return to it. Once back where they started, they will spawn. Although they have a low chance for survival on an individual basis, the almost ritualized life cycle ensures the continued survival of their species, and makes them a vital part of multiple ecosystems.






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