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Salmon Migration

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Category: festival
Where: Bialowieza, Poland
When: 1 Sep - 2 Sep 2017

The giant king salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) is the state fish of Alaska (also called Chinook salmon, spring salmon, quinnat, tyee, tule, and blackmouth salmon). The king salmon is native to the Pacific coast of North America and is the largest of all Pacific salmon (can reach over 100 pounds).

King salmon hatch in fresh water, spend part of their life in the ocean, then return to the fresh water stream where they were born to spawn (they die after spawning). Some salmon travel more than 2,000 river miles over a 60-day period to reach their home streams. Salmon do not feed during this freshwater migration, and their condition gradually deteriorates as stored body materials are used for energy and the development of reproductive products.

When salmons migrate upstream it looks like water boils. There are so many of them that the river seems to be alive. The most spectacular moments are when salmons go up the waterfalls and cross other obstacles.

Please, be aware that salmons are protected by law during their migration.

Each female salmon deposits from 3,000 to 14,000 eggs in several gravel nests. The newly hatched fish live in the gravel for several weeks (until the nourishment in the attached yolk sac is absorbed). Young salmon then consume plankton and later insects until they migrate to the ocean in their second year of life. While at sea salmon feed on a variety of ocean organisms including herring, pilchard, sandlance, squid, and crustaceans. When sexually mature (between 3 - 7 years of age) salmon return to their home fresh water streams to spawn.


Migrating fish are an easy victims for many wild animals including Eagles and, what is more important, Bears. Be extra careful while watching migrating salmons to avoid places where bears could hunt them.

Grizzly bears gather at prime fishing spots in Alaska when the salmon run upstream for spawning, putting on a spectacular display catching and feasting on the fish (fat from the salmon helps sustain the bears through the long winter ahead).


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