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CHUM SALMON

DID YOU KNOW?Chum fry usually migrate to estuaries immediately after emerging from the redd (nest).

SCIENTIFIC NAME:Oncorhynchus keta.

COMMON NAMES:Dog salmon, calico salmon, chub, fall salmon, and keta salmon.

DESCRIPTION:Chum salmon is greenish-blue with white tips on the pelvic and anal fins; no large black spots on the body. Maturing fish have dark bars, red coloring on the sides, and may have gray blotches.

LIFE CYCLE:Chum salmon usually spend minimal time in freshwater, generally only to reproduce. During their first spring of life, chum salmon migrate to estuaries to spend several months before heading out to sea. Chum usually spawn in their 3rd, 4th, or 5th year and is the last of the Pacific salmon to return to their natal streams.

RANGE:In North America, important spawning populations occur from the SacramentoRiver northward to Arctic Alaska; although chum salmon is found primarily north of the Rogue River in Oregon and Washington. In addition, there are several hatcheries in Washington, Oregon and Alaska, augmenting natural production.

HABITAT AND ECOLOGY: Research indicates that streams, coastal wetlands and estuaries are important habitats for chum salmon. Although rarely remaining in freshwater for extended periods, chum feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects and small crustaceans when they do. Stream quality is critical to the initial survival of the species. Eggs are laid in medium size gravel and need good water flow (to supply oxygen) to survive. Most chum mortality occurs in freshwater as a result of poor environmental conditions, like siltation, gravel disruptions and changes in water temperature. Freshwater habitat changed by poor agricultural and forest practices, irrigation developments, channelization and pollutants often negatively impact chum salmon.Coastal wetlands and estuaries are vital habitat for chum salmon which spend several months in residence before migrating out to sea. The wetlands produce nutrients essential to the estuarine food chain and the copepods, amphipods, and small crustaceans the chum feeds upon. Chum salmon also depend on the wetlands for protection from predators and for the role these wetlands play in maintaining water quality by trapping silt and absorbing chemical pollutants.

ECONOMIC VALUE:The chum salmon is the second most abundant salmonid in the North Pacific region as well as the most widely distributed. It ranks third in importance to the U.S. salmon fishing industry and is commercially fished from Oregon to Alaska, with 75% of the catch landed in Alaskan waters, followed by Puget Sound waters.


Revised 12/16/96