The Life of Sockeye

Posted on in our Seafood Blog

How much do you know about the active life-cycle of a Wild Sockeye Salmon?

Sockeye Salmon

  • Sockeye salmon are born from eggs, which are located in freshwater lakes, covered in gravel. They hatch in the winter months. They then remain in the gravel and live off of their yolk sacs until early spring.
  • In the spring, they emerge as “fry” and spend 1 to 3 years in fresh water. At this stage in life, the salmon eat zooplankton, insects, and amphipods (small shrimp-like crustaceans).
  • Once the salmon reach the “smolt” stage, they begin to migrate downstream, into the ocean.
  • They typically spend 2-3 years at sea, preying on zooplankton, small fish, and occasionally squid.
  • Sockeye sexually mature around the age of 4-5 years, when they begin their journey back to fresh water, typically in the summer months.
  • Females select the spawning site and dig nests (called redds) with their tails.
  • After the females deposit their eggs, males fertilize the eggs. The females then cover the eggs with gravel.
  • Once the Sockeye spawn, their natural life comes to an end. Even after death, salmon carcasses are a vital part of a river’s ecosystem, contributing nitrogen and phosphorus compounds to streams.