The Chinook salmon, is the largest species in the Pacific (Oncorhynchus) salmon family. Other commonly used names for the species include king salmon, Quinnat salmon, spring salmon and Tyee salmon. Chinook are anadromous fish native to the north Pacific Ocean and the river systems of western North America ranging from California to Alaska. They are also native to Asian rivers ranging from northern Japan to the Palyavaam River in the Siberian far east, although only the Kamchatka Peninsula supports relatively persistent native populations. They have been introduced to other parts of the world, including New Zealand and the Great Lakes. A large Chinook is a prized and sought-after catch for a sporting angler. The flesh of the salmon is also highly valued for its dietary nutritional content, which includes high levels of important omega-3 fatty acids.
The Chinook is blue-green,red or purple on the back and top of the head with silvery sides and white ventral surfaces. It has black spots on its tail and the upper half of its body. Its mouth is often dark purple to black. Adult fish range in size from 24 to 36 in (610 to 910 mm) but may be up to 58 inches (1,500 mm) in length; they average 10 to 50 pounds (4.5 to 23 kg).
Salmon feed on planktonic diatoms, copepods, kelps, seaweeds, jellyfish, and starfish. As with all salmonid species, they also feed on insects, amphipods, and other crustaceans while young, and primarily on other fish when older. Young salmon feed in streambeds for a short period until they are strong enough to journey out into the ocean and acquire more food. Chinook juveniles divide into two types: ocean type and stream type. Ocean-type chinook migrate to saltwater in their first year. Stream-type salmon spend one full year in fresh water before migrating to the ocean. After a few years in the ocean, adult salmon, then large enough to escape most predators, return to their original streambeds to mate. Chinook salmon can have extended lifespans, where some fish spend one to five years in the ocean, reaching age eight. More northerly populations tend to have longer lives.
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