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Salmon Life Cycle

Eggs

In the fall, salmon deposit eggs in gravel nests. Adult salmon die after spawning.

Aquaculture workers fertilize eggs with milt from spawning salmon. The eggs are incubated in the hatchery.

Alevin

Alevin

Alevin hatch from the eggs and remain in their nests until they absorb their yolk sac. In the spring, they emerge as fry.

Once alevin turn to fry in a hatchery, they are moved into raceways or net pens where they continue to grow.

Fry

Fry spend one or two years in fresh water. They grow and develop parr marks to help avoid predators.

Fry

Salmon incubated in hatcheries become fry and smolt. In the spring, they are released into lakes or oceans.

Smolt

Smolt

When fry turn silver, they are called smolt.

Hatcheries improve the survival of young salmon because there are no predators and the environment is more controlled.

Adult

Salmon mature after one to three years in the ocean.

Adult

Salmon transport nutrients in ecosystems, and support commercial, sport, subsistence, and personal use fishing.

Spawner

Spawner

In the summer and fall, adults return to their original spawning areas or the place they were released by an Alaskan hatchery.

And the life cycle begins again…

Photo by Kenny Regan