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Salmo salar  Linnaeus, 1758

Atlantic salmon
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Salmo salar   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Image of Salmo salar (Atlantic salmon)
Salmo salar
Picture by Helgesson, D.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Salmoniformes (Salmons) > Salmonidae (Salmonids) > Salmoninae
Etymology: Salmo: Latin, salmo, Plinius = salmon (Ref. 45335);  salar: From the Latin 'salio' meaning to leap (Ref. 6885).   More on author: Linnaeus.

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; freshwater; brackish; benthopelagic; anadromous (Ref. 92381); depth range 0 - 210 m (Ref. 57178), usually 10 - 23 m.   Temperate; 2°C - 9°C (Ref. 36794); 72°N - 37°N, 77°W - 61°E (Ref. 54253)

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 73.1  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 150 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 7251); 120.0 cm TL (female); common length : 38.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3561); max. published weight: 46.8 kg (Ref. 41037); max. reported age: 13 years (Ref. 274)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 3 - 4; Dorsal soft rays (total): 9-15; Anal spines: 3-4; Anal soft rays: 7 - 11; Vertebrae: 58 - 61. Distinguished from congeners by having the following unique characters: 10-13 scales between end of adipose base and lateral line; 17-24 gill rakers (Ref. 59043); caudal fin deeply forked in individuals smaller than 20 cm SL; hyaline or grey adipose margin; posterior part of vomer toothless (Ref. 59043). Mouth extends only to area below rear of eye and has well developed teeth (Ref. 51442). Vomerine teeth weak (Ref. 7251). Caudal fin with 19 rays (Ref. 2196). Little scales (Ref. 51442). Juveniles have 8-12 blue-violet spots on the flanks with little red spots in-between (Ref. 51442). Adults at sea are bluish-green dorsally becoming silvery along the sides and white ventrally; with a few black spots but none under lateral line (Ref. 37032, Ref. 51442). Caudal fin usually unspotted and adipose fin not black bordered. During reproduction individuals lose the silvery shine and become dull brown or yellowish. Males may be mottled with red or have large black patches (Refs. 37032, 51442, 88171). Skin becomes thick and leathery. Survivors lose their spawning coloration and are generally dark in colour (Ref. 84357). During the spawning season, males are characterized by elongated hooked jaws that meet at the tips, thicker fins, and slime covering their body. Hook of males dwindle after spawning (Ref. 35388).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North Atlantic Ocean: temperate and arctic zones in northern hemisphere (Ref. 51442). In the western Atlantic, it ranges from western Greenland and the coastal drainages of Quebec, Canada, to Connecticut, USA (Ref. 5723). Landlocked stocks are present in North America (Ref. 1998). In the eastern Atlantic, it ranges from the White and Barents Sea basins through northeastern Europe to the Baltic and North Sea basins, including Iceland (Ref. 59043). Introduced to New Zealand, Chile, southern Argentina (Ref. 59043) and Australia (Ref. 6390). Listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention (2002) (freshwater only). Listed in Annex II (freshwater only; excluding Finnish population) and V (freshwater only) of the EC Habitats Directive (2007).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Amphihaline species, spending most of its life in freshwater (Ref. 51442). Some landlocked populations exist. Found in all rivers where temperature rises above 10° C for about 3 months per year and does not exceed 20° C for more than a few weeks in summer (Ref. 59043) (preferred temperatures 4-12°C). Juveniles may live in cold lakes in northern Europe (Ref. 59043). Parr (i.e. juveniles) are territorial and are found in the upper reaches of rivers and streams, in riffle areas with strong current and rough gravel bottoms (Ref. 7471). During winter, parr seek refuge in small spaces or under stones during the day (Refs. 59043, 89461). Young remain in freshwater for 1 to 6 years, then migrate to coastal marine waters or even to open oceans where they remain for 1 to 4 years before returning to freshwater for spawning (Ref. 51442). Adults inhabit cooler waters with strong to moderate flow (Ref. 44894). The Atlantic salmon is reported to live up to 10 years, but most individuals only reach 4-6 years (Ref. 88187). Juveniles feed mainly on aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans and fish; adults at sea feed on squids, shrimps, and fish (Ref. 51442). Most populations depend mostly or exclusively on stocking due to degradations of environmental conditions. Fishing pressure on wild stocks has decreased due to intensive farming but other problems have increased. Farmed salmons escape in large numbers and move to any river and hybridize with wild stocks (Ref. 59043). This species may hybridize with trout (Salmo trutta) (Ref. 59043). Diseases of the species include furunculosis (Aeromonas salmonicida), corynebacterial kidney disease (Renibacterium salmoninarum), enteric red mouth disease (Yersinia ruckeri), infectious pancreatic necrosis virus, bacterial kidney disease, fin rot and fungus infections (Ref. 5951). Marketed fresh, dried or salted, smoked, and frozen; eaten steamed, fried, broiled, cooked in microwave, and baked (Ref. 9988).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Page, L.M. and B.M. Burr, 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 432 p. (Ref. 5723)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Harmless




Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; aquaculture: commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO(Aquaculture: production, species profile; fisheries: production, species profile; publication : search) | FIRMS (Stock assessments) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us

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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.5000   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00871 (0.00495 - 0.01531), b=3.06 (2.90 - 3.22), based on LWR estimates for species & Subfamily-body shape (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.4   ±0.1 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.1-0.2; tmax=6; Fecundity=1,600).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  High vulnerability (62 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Very high.