The Atlantic Salmon
The Atlantic salmon has a long body, which averages 60 cm in length. It has a round forked tail, two dorsal fins including one adipose fin. The Atlantic salmon’s head is pointed. It has well-developed teeth on both jaws. There are many black spots along its body. When at sea, its sides and stomach are silvery, while its back is brown, green and blue. A full grown, Atlantic Salmon can weigh 8-10 pounds.
In fresh water Atlantic salmon feed on crustaceans, smelt, alewives, and invertebrates such as may flies, caddis flies and their larvae. Out at sea they feed on other fish.
Atlantic Salmon are born in fresh water riverbeds. They require clean, cool, flowing water, free from chemical or organic pollutants. They like the water temperature between 15-25 degrees Celsius in summer.
Atlantic Salmon are an anadromous fish, which means going from salt water to fresh water. Adults grow and mature in the ocean, then they migrate back into a stream to spawn. After birth, young salmon stay in the stream for 2-6 years. After they smolt, a body change that adapts them for salt-water survival, they leave the stream for the ocean.
The Atlantic salmon migrates back to the same stream it was born in to mate. They spawn, lay eggs, in the rocky bed of the river or stream. Sometimes the Atlantic salmon will repeat this migration more than once in their life span, unlike the Pacific salmon, which only migrates once.
The Atlantic salmon goes from an egg to an alevin, and then to a Fry. After that it enters the Parr stage, young salmon actively feeding in fresh water. Then the Atlantic salmon goes through the smolting stage, a body change that prepares them for life in salt water and they assume a silvery color. The next stage is adult which lasts 1-4 years in the ocean, followed by the last stage, which is spawning.
How They Became Endangered:
Polluting and damming of their streams and rivers endangered the Atlantic salmon. Over-fishing also caused this.
What is happening to help them now:
Laws have been passed to cut down on pollution and damming of their freshwater habitats. Regulations have been established banning high seas salmon fishing, also helping to increase their population.
How can you help:
You can help are by trying not to pollute streams and by helping clean up streams. You should also not fish for salmon in the ocean. Another way to help is by donating your time or money to organizations that are trying to save the Atlantic salmon from extinction.