Alaska Department of Fish and Game
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Gene Conservation Laboratory
The Salmon Story - Mature Adult
6. Mature (adult)
Pacific salmon start to change color and shape after they enter freshwater and start getting ready to spawn. Subsistence users and sport fishermen still catch some salmon at this time. They are also eaten by other animals such as bears and eagles. Those that make it to the spawning grounds are the ones that carry the genetic information from one generation to the next. Of the thousands of eggs that were originally spawned by each pair of salmon, only two will successfully live to spawn. The salmon die after spawning. Some of the carcasses are eaten by scavengers, and some decay into fertilizer in the freshwater environment. This natural fertilizer then feeds the plankton that forms the base for food for the salmon fry the following spring, and the cycle is complete!
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