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Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka


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Sockeye Salmon
credit: timothy Knepp

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Alternate name: Red Salmon, Kokanee

Family: Salmonidae, Trouts view all from this family

Description Sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), also called red salmon or blueback salmon in the USA, is an anadromous species of salmon found in the Northern Pacific Ocean and rivers discharging into it. There are also completely landlocked populations of the same species, which are known as kokanee or "silver trout." Sockeye salmon is the third most common Pacific salmon species, after pink and chum salmon. The name "sockeye" is an anglicization of suk-kegh (sθə́qəy̓), its name in Halkomelem, the language of the indigenous people along the lower reaches of the Fraser River (one of British Columbia's many native Coast Salish languages). Suk-kegh means red fish.

Dimensions Up to 33" (84 cm).

Endangered Status The Sockeye Salmon is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. Snake River populations are classified as endangered in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Populations from Ozette Lake, Washington, are classified as threatened. The Snake River Sockeye Salmon began their decline in the 1970s after hydroelectric dams were built along the Snake and Columbia Rivers. The original free flow of these rivers has been curtailed by more than 60 dams, and wild salmon populations have been reduced dramatically. Many salmon runs -- once extending over hundreds of miles of woodland streams -- have been destroyed entirely. Other factors contributing to the demise of Sockeyes are pollution, overfishing, and alterations to their habitat brought upon by development of adjoining land.

Habitat Open ocean, Ocean or bay shallows, Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Rivers & streams, Lakes & ponds.

Range Rocky Mountains, California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.