Hello my name is Big Red!
I am a Sockeye salmon, my scientific name is Oncorhynchus nerka. My nick name is red or blueback salmon. I happen to be the third most abundant of the seven Pacific salmon species. My recitatives the pink and chum salmon are ranked number 1 and 2 above me. I am not the largest of the salmon species but I sure can be large. My average weight is about 8 pounds, but at my heaviest I can weigh 15 pounds. I can even grow up to 3 feet. I can live to be 5 years old. I sure do love the cold water of the Pacific Ocean.
When I am a juvenile in fresh water I will have dark, oval parr marks on my sides and usually does not extend below the lateral line. My sides are bright and shiny silver with a blue like colored back while swimming around in the ocean and starting my migration home. As I start my journey in fresh water to return to my spawning grounds I start to turn red, by the time I spawn I am a bright red with a green head. The pretty color of my red meat comes from the orange krill I eat during my time at sea.Breeding-age males develop a humped back and hooked jaws filled with tiny, visible teeth. Juveniles, while in fresh water, have dark, oval parr marks on their sides. These parr marks are short-less than the diameter of the eye-and rarely extend below the lateral line.
I was born in the beautiful Klutina Lake in south-central Alaska. I have an omnivore diet. I can spend two years eating aquatic insects and plankton in the lake. During my second or third summer I start my journey away from my fresh water habitat to the ocean where I eat “amphipods”, “copepods”, squid, and some smaller fish. Between 3 years of age and 5 years of age I will leave my salt water habitat to return home and to spawn. I will make a redd (nest) when I am ready to lay my eggs. It does not matter to me which male fertilizes my eggs. There will be many fighting to do so, once one is successful in fertilizing my eggs I will cover them with some grave. I will repeat this process three to five times. After I have spawned my life will have completed its cycle and I will die. My carcass will provide nutrients to the river and food for new born fish.
This is a hard life. I have many enemies during my life cycle.
One of my biggest enemies are humans. They eat me as small as an egg and as big as an adult male or female. Humans catch us in nests, baskets, and hooks as we are returning to our spawning ground. They will cut us open to eat our roe and fillet our meat. They are also the cause of our natural habitat lose, due to the building of things like dams. Another enemy of ours is the bears and the eagles. The bears and eagles love to wait for us at the sallow and narrow parts of the rivers as we are swimming home to spawn. While at sea I do have to deal with large marine mammals. The normal issues of having a larger predator than me.
My favorite comic strip is “Tundra”. There has been several books published with nothing but these amazingly funny comics in them.
My heroes are the small human fishermen/women. If I am going to be caught before my time is up I would like it to be by one of these little cuties.