Why do salmon swim in salt water?
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Because pepper water makes them sneeze!
Jokes aside, did you know that this time of year is the spawning season for salmon?
Sockeye salmon (pictured) live most of their lives in the ocean and then migrate all the way up to Okanagan and Similkameen water bodies to lay eggs. This migration from saltwater into freshwater for reproduction is called anadromy and it requires a very complex set of adaptations in the fish to be able to move from salt to fresh water habitats. Without these adaptations, the difference in salinity from the ocean to our rivers and lakes would cause serious (and quickly lethal) health effects!
You may have also heard of Kokanee salmon, but those are a seperate species from the Sockeye even though they look very similar. Kokanee salmon are "landlocked", which means they do not ever go back to ocean but stay in freshwater lakes their whole lives.There are two different kinds of kokanee: stream spawners, who travel up local creeks and streams to lay eggs, and beach spawners, who just find a nice piece of shoreline along the lakefront to reproduce!
Chinook salmon also venture into the Okanagan and Similkameen. These are the biggest species of Pacific salmon, often reaching over 30lbs! Because Chinooks are a species at risk, fishing for these salmon is heavily restricted and regulated in BC.
Want to see these beautiful fish for yourself? Head over to the Okanagan River Channel in October and look for beautiful red fish making their way up the river.