Chinook Salmon – Traits, Facts, Description, Profile

Chinook salmon
(Last Updated On: April 13, 2021)

Chinook is a primitive salmon fish in the Northern Pacific and western North American river systems, from California to Alaska, as well as the Asian River from northern Japan to the Paliyavam River in northeast Siberia.

Chinook Salmon species, scientific name Oncorhynchus tshawytscha is the largest species which is also named as king salmon, Quinnat salmon, spring salmon, chrome hog, and Tyee salmon.

Chinook salmon have been introduced to New Zealand, North American Great Lakes, and other regions of the world, including Patagonia.

A big chinook is a valuable and sought-after catch for a sports angler. Salmon is also highly valued for its dietary nutritional content, including high levels of important omega-3 fatty acids. Some communities are endangered.

However, many are healthy. Chinook salmon was not evaluated for the IUCN Red List. According to the NOAA, chinook salmon populations on the California coast are declining, leading to additional water issues, freshwater damage and estuarine habitat loss, hydropower development, poor sea conditions, and hatchery practices.

Chinook salmon


Natural range

Actually historically, the local distribution of Chinook salmon in North America was from the Ventura River in southern California to the Kotzebue Sound in northern Alaska.

The population disappeared from larger regions where they once grew, however, declining by 5 percent.

In some areas, their interior range has been cut, mainly through dams and habitat changes: from southern California, some zones east of California and Oregon coast ranges, and large areas of the Snake River and upper Columbia River drainage basins.

In certain regions, such as the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, California, it was revealed that very few populations of juvenile Chinook salmon (less than 5%) survived.

It is distributed in the western Pacific, from northern Japan (Hokkaido) in the south to the Arctic Ocean to the East Siberian Sea and north to the Paliwam River.

Nevertheless, they are consistently present and the distribution is well known only in Kamchatka. Elsewhere information is scarce, but they are present in the Anadi River basin and parts of the Chukchi Peninsula.

Also in the northern part of the Shelekhov Gulf and Penzina Bay stocks may remain in some parts of Magadan Oblast but poorly studied.


Chinook blue-green, red, or purple on the back and top of the head, silversides, and white ventral surface. It has black spots on the tail and upper part of its body. Chinook has a black gum line that is present in both salt and fresh water.

Adult fish size is 24 to 36 in (61 to 91 cm), but maybe 58-in (150 cm) in length; They average 10 to 50 pounds (4.5 to 22.7 kg) but they can reach 130 pounds (59 kg).

On the Kenai River in Alaska, the average mature chinook is 16.8 kg (37 lbs).

The current world record of sports, .220.25 pounds (1.8 kg), was captured on the Kenai River on May 7, 1981.

At the end of that catch০s, the commercial catch world record was caught at 126 pounds (57kg) near Reverse Inlet, British Columbia.

Chinook salmon

Life cycle

Chinook can spend one to eight years at sea (averaging three to four years) before returning to boil in their water rivers as they prepare for a spanning event, the salmon will undergo a radical change in appearance.

Salmon will lose the silver that they lost as fish in the sea, and their color disappears, sometimes changing radically.

Salmon is sexually transmitted, and the male salmon develop canine national teeth, and their jaws develop a pronounced curvature or hook, called a “cape.”

Studies have shown that larger and more dominant male salmon have reproductive benefits because female chinook is often more aggressive toward younger males.

Chinook spawns in larger and deeper waters than other salmon species and is found spawning redd from September to December.

Female salmon can pocket four to five nests in their red eggs. After laying eggs, females protect the red four to 25 days before dying, and males seek extra mates. Chinook eggs hatch 90 to 150 days after deposition, depending on water temperature.

Egg deposits are timed to ensure the emergence of young salmon fries during the season suitable for survival and growth.

Fry and parr (usually young fish) usually remain in freshwater for 12 to 18 months before traveling to flowing areas, where they remain as smolts for several months.

Chinook salmon

Some chinook returns to their diet a year or two earlier than their counterparts and is known as “Jack” salmon. The “jack” salmon is usually less than 24 inches (61 cm) tall but is sexually mature.

The Yukon River water passage has the longest freshwater migration, flowing 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) from the mouth of the Bering Sea to Whitehorse, Yukon, since chinook relies on conserving fat for energy when entering saltwater, so commercial fish caught here are at their heart- Healthy omega-3s are extremely valuable for abnormally high levels of fatty acids.

However, higher harvesting and transport from this rural area limits its potential. The highest elevation of the Chinook transfer is the Salmon River and the middle fork above the Salmon River in Idaho.

These fish travel a total of 8 feet (2,5 m) high and 8 miles (5 km) above the Columbia and Lower Snake Rivers through eight dams and reservoirs.

Chinook eats insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans during adolescence, and basically eats other fish when they grow up.

Feed young salmon on strawberries for a short time until they are strong enough to travel to the sea and obtain more food. The Chinook juvenile is divided into two types: sea-type and stream-type.

The Ocean-National Chinook relocated to saltwater in their first year. Stream-type salmon spend an entire year in freshwater before sailing to the sea.

After a few years at sea, the adult salmon, then back to their original streambed in the mate, to escape most predators.

The life expectancy of the Chinook can be extended, where some fish spend one to five years at sea and reach the age of eight. The further north holds the longer life of the population.

Salmon need adequate spawning habitat. Clean, cool, oxygenated, sediment-free fresh water is essential for egg development.

Chinook uses a larger sediment size for spanning than the other Pacific. Riparian vegetation and woody debris provide juvenile salmon by providing low-temperature cover and maintaining water.

Chinook also needs a healthy sea habitat. Teenage salmon grows in a clean, productive estuarine environment and gains energy for migration. Later, they changed physiologically to live in saltwater.

They depend on camouflage (shelter from predators), shelter, and elgus for the livestock zones and marine sea as they travel to the open sea.

The rich, open sea habitat of adult fishes needs to travel back to the stream, gaining the strength needed to escape predators and reproduce before they die.

In his King of Fish, David Montgomery writes, “Sea fish reserves are important in restoring rivers that are disturbed by natural disasters.”

Thus, it is extremely important for fish to be able to reach the oceans (without man-made barriers such as dams), so they can turn into healthy adult fish to maintain the species.

Water bodies must be clean and oxygenated for salmon habitat. The level of algae is a sign of high productivity and growth rate in the sea.

Increased levels of algal lead to high levels of carbon dioxide in the water, which transfers to living organisms, encouraging submerged plants and small organisms, which eat salmon. Algae can filter high levels of toxins and pollutants.

Chinook salmon

Thus, it is essential for algae and other water-filtering agents not to be destroyed in the oceans because they contribute to the well-being of the food chain.

With the proper management of hydropower and irrigation projects, precautions must be taken to prevent excessive fishing and habitat destruction, as some communities are in danger.

Because of fishing and land management practices, only a very few fish remain, making salmon more difficult to reproduce.

When one of these is compromised, the affected stock may decrease. An article in the Seattle Times states, “Pacific salmon have disappeared beyond their 5 percent of the historical range beyond Alaska,” and conclude that it’s important for people to realize salmon needs and try not to contribute to the destructive practices that affect salmon runs.

Summer runs in the Pacific Northwest, especially the large Chinook, were once prevalent (before dams and excessive fishing declined) called the Jun Hog.

The bone of Chinook and subsequent evolution can be traced to the otolith bone. The bone may record the chemical composition of the water in which the fish lived, just as the growth rings of the tree provide indication during the dry and wet years.

The bone was created by the chemical signature of the environment that captured the fish. Researchers were able to tell where different people in Chinook were born and lived in the first year of their lives.

The bone was examined by measuring strontium. Strontium allows researchers to accurately display the exact location and time of a fish to swim in a river.

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