Types of Salmon in Alaska

Types of Salmon in Alaska
Salmon fishing in Alaska is a popular sport and an important industry for the state. Every year, almost $200 million worth of wild salmon are caught in Alaska's streams and rivers. There are five known types of salmon existing in Alaska. In recent years, the population of these species has been boosted through efforts made by Alaska's fisheries management system to ensure sustainable fishing.

King (Chinook) Salmon

True to their name, king salmon are the largest of the five species of Pacific salmon. King salmon reach an average length of 40 inches (1.02 meters) and an weight of 22 pounds (9.98 kilograms). It is not unusual to find king salmon that weigh over 100 pounds (45 kilograms). For these reasons, king salmon are highly coveted by the Alaskan fishing industry. They can be identified by the noticeable x-shaped markings on their dorsal fin.


Coho Salmon

Accounting for approximately five percent of Alaska's annual salmon catch, the pink- or red-fleshed coho salmon are typically caught for sale to wholesale fish markets in North America. The typical coho salmon is 29 inches long (0.74 meters) and weighs 9 pounds (4 kilograms). These fish can be recognized by their silver appearance and the random black dots on their back scales.

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeyes make up the largest proportion of salmon caught annually in Alaska. Sockeyes can reach a weight of 9 pounds (4 kilograms) and a length of 24 inches (0.6 meters). Sockeyes are the fish people normally think of when envisioning salmon, as they are the most commonly encountered salmon species in Alaska. Sockeyes are silver-green with a green tail.

Pink Salmon

Pink salmon make up the largest population of wild salmon in Alaska, though they also make up the smallest catch due to their small size and low weight. Pink salmon average 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) and 16 inches in length (0.4 meters). These salmon are usually the fish species used in canned salmon products. They can be identified by their humped back during the breeding season, white belly and blue back.

Chum Salmon

Unlike all other Pacific salmon species, the chum salmon's flesh is yellow. For this reason, they are typically less popular among fishermen and commercial fisheries. Chum salmon can weigh as much as 8 pounds (3.63 kilograms) and measure 30 inches (0.76 meters) in length. Besides the color of their meat, chum salmon can be recognized by their dark-tipped fins and vertical purple stripes.


Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.

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