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Life Cycle of Atlantic Salmon

In the Atlantic Ocean the Atlantic salmon is known as the “King of Fish.” They were once found in most coastal rivers northeast of the Hudson in New York. Unfortunately, overfishing and dams that blocked their ability to reach their preferred spawning grounds, reduced their numbers until populations were greatly diminished. Currently, the last wild populations of U.S. Atlantic salmon are found in a handful of rivers in Maine, but our National Fish Passage program and the Craig Brook and Green Lake National Fish Hatcheries are working with partners to ensure these fish continue to make their journey up stream.

Life Cycle of Atlantic Salmon

In late autumn, female Atlantic salmon dig a shallow nest (called a redd) in a gravelly riverbed. They bury their fertilized eggs under a foot of gravel in the redds and leave them over the winter. The eggs hatch in April and May. After three to four weeks, the baby salmon swim up through the gravel to hunt for food. Young salmon spend one to three years in or very near the stream where they were born. When they are about 6 inches long and ready to live in saltwater, they become silver in color and migrate to the ocean – swimming and surfing the ocean currents to their feeding grounds near Greenland.

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