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Chinook Salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha



Threatened (Federal)


The Chinook is blue-green on the back and top of the head with silvery sides and white abdomen. It has black spots on its tail and the upper half of its body. As they approach fresh water to spawn, the body colour darkens and a reddish hue around the fins and belly develops. The teeth of adult spawning males become enlarged and the snout develops into a hook. This fish can weigh over 50 kg.

The population of Chinook salmon in the Okanagan Basin are genetically distinct from every other species of Chinook in Canada.

Chinook salmon are born in fresh water and grow in streams, lakes, estuaries, and/or the ocean. Sexually mature or maturing fish migrate to their natal stream to spawn, following which the adults die. They spawn in a broad range of stream flows, water depths, and substrate sizes, but prefer to spawn in areas with intra-gravel water flow.

The spawning population of Chinook in the Okanagan River may be as low as just 50 individuals


-Overfishing in the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean
-Pollution in the Columbia River
-Loss of habitat
-Mortality from dams which block their migration routes
-Reduced water quality in spawning habitats
-Ecological effects of invasive species in Osoyoos Lake

You Can Help!

-Ensure that Chinook spawning grounds are accessible by the fish and left undisturbed
-Support river restoration efforts from Okanagan Falls to Osoyoos
-Get involved locally in BC Rivers Clean Up Day
-Assist with efforts to clean up lakes in Southern BC
-Support hatchery efforts to bring back Chinook Salmon


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