IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

Read full entry

Comprehensive Description

The Sockeye or Red Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) is native to northeastern Asia and, in North America, Arctic and Pacific drainages from Point Hope, Alaska, to the Sacramento River drainage in California. Landlocked populations are found in Alaska, Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. This species is relatively common in the northern part of its North American range, but rarer south of the Columbia River drainage. Although it has been widely stocked, most transplant attempts have failed to establish populations. (Page and Burr 1991)

At different periods in the life cycle, Sockeye Salmon are found in the open ocean and, typically, in lakes, which they reach by migrating up coastal streams. Landlocked Sockeye Salmon are known as Kokanee. At sea, these fish are metallic blue and silver, but spawning (breeding) adults are very distinctively colored, turning bright red with a green head. Adults reach a size of around 84 cm in length. (Page and Burr 1991).

Approximately the first half of a Sockeye Salmon's four to six year lifespan is spent in freshwater, while the second half is spent foraging in estuarine and marine waters of the Pacific Ocean. Sockeye Salmon migrate upstream to breed just once, then die. For detailed information on the biology and status of this species, including conservation issues, see this resource from the NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Shapiro, Leo

Source: EOL Rapid Response Team


EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!