Salmon is one of the most popular fish of all, along with cod and tuna. If you love to make delicious salmon recipes and enjoy this rich-tasting, moist fish in filet or steak form, you might be interested in learning more about it. Salmon can be fresh, canned or smoked, and it can be used to make recipes as diverse as salmon quiche, tasty little tea sandwiches, risotto and pasta dishes, fish stew, and much more. But how does salmon begin life and what is the story of a salmon from birth to ending up on your dinner table? Read on and discover the fascinating life cycle of a salmon.
Eggs are deposited by the female during spawning and then the male deposits sperm to fertilize them and start the new generation. The eggs take somewhere between six and twelve weeks to hatch, and that largely depends on water temperature. If you look at these tiny eggs you might see black spots, and those are the eyes developing. The name given to freshly-hatched salmon is ‘alevin’ and they get their nourishment for several weeks from the yolk in the egg they were born in. These tiny salmon remain in the river gravel until the egg sac has been absorbed, and then they will begin to emerge and swim around in search of other food.
These baby salmon eat carcasses of spawned-out adults as well as any tiny invertebrates they find. Their abilities to deal with the currents in the river, school together with other baby fish and hide when there is a predator come naturally to them, along with other survival skills. They live in fresh water for up to two years. Some live there for a shorter period, even just a few days, depending on their species. Once a fish undergoes ‘smolting’ (a physiological change) it can live in saltwater without absorbing the salt into its bloodstream, and can migrate to the ocean and live out the rest of its life.
Salmon spend up to 5 years growing and gaining weight, living in saltwater, then when they reach their maximum weight and size they return to the river where they were born so they can spawn. By then they will have turned from bright silver to a darker color. All their energy goes into the production of eggs or sperm, and the adults pair up to produce offspring. The cycle ends here for the adult salmon, and begins for the brand new eggs.
Picture, recipes and/or content upgraded: 01-27-16
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