Sockeye Salmon Information
The Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is a robust and resilient species of Pacific salmon native to the coastal waters of Alaska. During their lifetime, these anadromous salmon live one to four years in freshwater before journeying to live in the vastness of the salty northern Pacific to feed, grow, and eventually reproduce. When the time comes for a mature adult sockeye to spawn, it travels miles back to a freshwater river in search of pristine gravelly substrate and a mate.
An awe-inspiring transformation occurs when a jet-silver, sea-going sockeye salmon returns to its freshwater spawning grounds. A once iridescent silver head turns green and its body becomes bright red. A male spawning sockeye develops a humped back, pronounced hooked jaw (also known as “kype”), and small yet sharp teeth. Hence why local anglers and observers know these uniquely beautiful fish as “reds”. All sockeye die within a few weeks after spawning. The remaining nutrients from the decaying fish fuel the growth and nourishment of the riparian areas which so bountifully protect the rivers and feed local fauna.
Populations of sockeye salmon in Alaska render harvests of rich, strikingly orange flesh high in healthy fats and protein. There are hundreds of stocks of sockeye salmon in Alaska. And while all salmon populations are subject to changes in oceanic and climatic conditions, the majority are healthy and flourishing.