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Atlantic Salmon Scales Provide Key Information

Since 1992, we have conducted research on Atlantic salmon scales collected during annual field activities for assessing smolt and adult populations. Results from scale studies contribute to and inform stock assessments and support population dynamics research.

Project Goal

The Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team’s image analysis labs process numerous Atlantic salmon scales—imaging, aging, measuring, and analyzing—to support research into Atlantic salmon population dynamics and ecology.

Project Description

The salmon image analysis labs at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center are located in our Orono and Woods Hole Laboratories. These labs process over 1,000 salmon scales annually to assist population dynamics research. With the Maine Department of Natural Resources we monitor salmon smolts as they make their way from their natal river to the ocean each year.

Analyzing scales helps us determine age, rearing origin, and growth rates and patterns throughout Atlantic salmon life history. Ages from the different life stages help scientists understand many aspects of the fish’s life history, such as:

  • Survival and mortality
  • Age at maturity and spawning
  • Freshwater and marine residence

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