WDFW LogoWashington Department of Fish & Wildlife
  HELP | EMPLOYMENT | NEWS | CONTACT  
WDFW LogoConservation

Pink

Please wait, loading data...

Statistics

Pink Salmon in Water Pink
Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

Other names: humpie, humpback salmon
Average size: 3-5 lbs, up to 12 lbs

Male pink salmon develop a large hump on their back during spawning, hence the nickname humpback salmon. This is the smallest of the fall-spawning Pacific salmon. In Washington, pink salmon runs only occur in odd-numbered years.

Spawning

Pinks use the mainstems of large rivers and some tributaries, often very close to saltwater. Because their fry move directly to sea after emerging, the closer they spawn to saltwater the better. The shorter journey reduces predation and increases survival. Sometimes pink salmon spawn right in saltwater, avoiding freshwater altogether.

Pinks have a very regular life history, living for two years before returning to spawn the next generation. This is why pink runs in Washington only occur every other year; there are no one-year-old or three-year-old fish to establish runs in the other years.

Rearing

As mentioned, pink fry do not rear in freshwater. Immediately after emerging they move downstream to the estuary and rear there for several months before heading out to the open ocean. Because of this, pink fry have no spots, which provide camouflage in streams, but are bright chrome for open water.

Body

Pink Picture
  • Mouth is white with a black gum line
  • In marine areas, almost no teeth
  • Large oval spots on both lobes of tail
  • Large black spots on back
  • Pointed lower jaw
  • No silver on tail
  • Very small scales


Jaw

Pink Head The mouth of a pink is white, but the gums and tongue are black, as they are in a chinook. It does not have "teeth" on its tongue.

Tail

Pink Tail The pink salmon tail is covered with large oval spots. It does not have silver on the tail. The scales are very small compared to other salmon of the same size.

Terminology

Alevin - The lifestage of a salmonid between egg and fry. An alevin looks like a fish with a huge pot belly, which is the remaining egg sac. Alevin remain protected in the gravel riverbed, obtaining nutrition from the egg sac until they are large enough to fend for themselves in the stream.

Anadromous - Fish that live part or the majority of their lives in saltwater, but return to freshwater to spawn.

Emergence - The act of salmon fry leaving the gravel nest.

Fry - A juvenile salmonid that has absorbed its egg sac and is rearing in the stream; the stage of development between an alevin and a parr.

Kype - The hooked jaw many male salmon develop during spawning.

Parr - Also known as fingerling. A large juvenile salmonid, one between a fry and a smolt.

Smolt - A juvenile salmonid which has reared in-stream and is preparing to enter the ocean. Smolts exchange the spotted camouflage of the stream for the chrome of the ocean.

Substrate - The material which comprises a stream bottom.

Pink Populations List
For more information on
salmon recovery and conservation, please contact
the WDFW Fish Program.
360-902-2700
fishpgm@dfw.wa.gov

For problems accessing this
website or data found on this
website, please contact
WDFW SCoRE Help.
scorehelp@dfw.wa.gov


 
RELATED LINKS


Fun Facts
Did you know?
Coho and sockeye are found in freshwater year-round; coho in small coastal streams and sockeye in lakes. These fish are very susceptible to poor water quality, such as high temperatures and pollution.

Fun Facts
Did you know?
Salmon species have adapted to use virtually every part of every stream in the northwest.

Fun Facts
Did you know?
Big rivers are used by pink salmon in the lower reaches, chinook in the mainstem and larger tributaries, coho in small tribs, and steelhead in the uppermost tributaries.

Fun Facts
Did you know?
Small streams are used by chum in the lower reaches, coho next, and cutthroat in the headwaters.

Fun Facts
Did you know?
A moving fry is much easier to see than a motionless one. This is why salmon tend to spawn in parts of the stream that their offspring use for rearing; the emerging fry do not have to travel far to find rearing areas.
Fun Facts
Did you know?
The size of a salmon is usually related to its age. Pink salmon are the smallest fall-spawning salmon and are also the youngest, at two years. Chinook can live up to nine years, the longest, which is why some chinook can grow to over 100 pounds. Cutthroat, which live longer than pinks, are typically smaller because they spend less or no time feeding in productive marine waters of the north Pacific.
Fun Facts
Did you know?
There is a sixth fall-spawning salmon, the masu, or cherry salmon, which is found only in Asia. This fish occupies the same niche that the sea-run cutthroat trout occupies in North America.
Fun Facts
Did you know?
Steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species of fish; rainbow are the freshwater form, and steelhead the anadromous form.
Fun Facts
Did you know?
Steelhead and cutthroat trout were recently added to the salmon genus, Oncorhynchus, from the trout genus, Salmo. Also, the scientific name of steelhead changed from Salmo gairdneri to Oncorhynchus mykiss.