Scientific name: Oncorhynchus gorbuscha
Other names: Humpy, Humpback
Introduction: Pink salmon is a species of anadromous fish, the smallest and most abundant of Pacific salmon. It is closely related to the chum salmon as both species share a minimum dependence on fresh water to feed and grow, compared with other Pacific salmon species.
Distribution: The species is native to Pacific and Arctic coastal waters, from northern California to the Mackenzie River in Canada; and in the west from Siberia to Korea.
Weight and measures: Its average weight is 2 kg, and the world record was a 5.9 kg specimen captured in the Great Lakes of North America.
Habitat and life cycle: Pink salmon are coldwater fish with a preferred temperature range between 5 and 15°C. They have a very short life cycle as they mature, spawn and die in just two years. This is the reason why in comparison with other Pacific salmon species, they reach sexual maturity with a small size. Spawning occurs between August and September in coastal streams and some longer rivers (there are registers of 500 to 750 km upstream migrations).
Using her tail, the female digs a redd in the gravel of the stream bed, wherein she deposits her eggs (1000 to 2000). As she expels the eggs, she is approached by one or more males who fertilize them as they fall into the redd. Subsequently, the female covers the newly-deposited zygotes, again with gravel and guard the redd until death, which comes within days of spawning. The eggs hatch during winter, depending on water temperature, and the juveniles emerge from the gravel by late winter or early spring. The young quickly migrate downstream to estuaries towards the sea.
Appearance: In the ocean, pink salmon body is bright silver; its back is bluish and has black spots above the lateral line, on the back and its tail fin. After returning to their spawning stream, coloring changes to pale grey on the butt with yellowish white belly. Males suffer major changes in their bodies. Those that reach sexually maturity develop pronounced jaws and are identified by the hump on the back, giving the nickname "Humpy" (humpback).
Diet: During their estuaries and marine life stages, pink salmon eat krill and small fish; and by the time they reach freshwater they stop feeding.