I’m McKensie Daugherty, your host for On the Ocean. Have you ever eaten salmon because you have heard of it’s “many” health benefits… Like shinier hair, speedier metabolisms, improved brain function, or maybe because it’s the perfect source of lean protein? Well, at a whopping 28-30 inches long and 8-12 pounds, these gigantic and adaptable fish, the atlantic salmon, have a wide range of amazing aspects. These fish are what you would call anadromous – where they spend half their life in freshwater, and the other half in the ocean, only to return to freshwater, fighting through deadly currents, to spawn and die. The atlantic salmon, scientific name salmo salar, also called kelts, black salmon, or the red run salmon, are the only type of salmon that are native to the atlantic ocean, and can be found on the north-east coast of the United States. However, in the wild, these beautiful black-spotted silver-blue salmon are actually endangered, with the population being at a record low. The salmon that you get from your local grocery store are raised on farms because of this. Commercial fishing for the atlantic salmon is illegal due to the overfishing and habitat destruction from 1979 to 1990 in which total catches fell from 4 million to 700,000 per year. Don’t worry too much though because the fishing and farming of these beautiful animals are managed by an abundance of regulations such as the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. Current worldwide aquaculture production of the atlantic salmon exceeds 1,000,000 tonnes per year, account for over 50% of the total global salmon market, and are mostly farmed in Japan, the european union, and the united states. It is legal to catch retired salmon recreationally in some states through angling but because these fish near extinction in the wild, we must all work together to keep this unique species safe. This has been On the Ocean, a program made possible by the Department of Oceanography and a production of KAMU-FM on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. For more information and links, please go to ocean.tamu.edu and click “On the Ocean”.
Script Authors: Kalan Barnes & Patrick Chandler
Figure 1: The physical characteristics for identification of the atlantic salmon.
Figure 2: From the 1970s to the 1990s and on, the wild population of atlantic salmon decreased drastically and has been struggling to grow.
Species in the Spotlight: Atlantic Salmon
North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization
Salmo Salar: The Atlantic Salmon