Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia
Also known as
Ntitiyix, Sk’elwis, king salmon, blackmouth, quinnat, chub, spring salmon, tyee
Pacific Ocean and rivers from California to Alaska and eastern Asia
Freshwater rivers and streams, to open ocean environments
Order Salmoniformes (salmon and relatives), Family Salmonidae (trout and salmon)
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Chinook salmon are an iconic species of the north Pacific Ocean and the rivers of western North America and eastern Asia. Also known as “king” salmon, they are the largest of the Pacific salmon species with the world record for a commercial catch weighing in at 57.27kg (126lbs)! Like all salmon, this species is well known for undergoing long migrations and significant physiological changes in order to travel to the open ocean as young salmon, then return to freshwater rivers as adults to reproduce. Chinook salmon are active predators eating insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans while they’re young, and mostly other fish as they grow older and larger.
Chinook salmon are also an important species for humans, other animals and coastal ecosystems. For large marine mammals such as the Steller sea lion and the endangered Southern Resident killer whale, Chinook salmon are a favourite and make up most of their diets. For terrestrial animals like bears, birds, and wolves, spawning salmon offer a great feast before winter. Their discards become compost for the coastal forests meaning even trees growing along the rivers rely on the Chinook! To humans, they are highly valuable to commercial, recreational, and Indigenous fisheries, aquaculture operations, and cultural and spiritual practices.