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Sockeye Salmon or Red Salmon

(Oncorhynchus nerka)

Brilliant red, that's the color of a sockeye salmon when preparing to spawn in fresh water streams. No surprise that another name for sockeye is Red Salmon. A 3.5-ounce piece of sockeye yields 1.2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and that means it's good for your heart!

If you buy canned salmon there's a high likelihood that it's sockeye. Beyond canned salmon, of course, there's the fresh frozen variety. Far more than fifty-percent of the sockeye catch is frozen and sent to markets in Japan and the U.S. Salted and packaged sockeye eggs (roe) is very valuable in Japan.

Fast facts: Bristol Bay, Alaska is the sockeye salmon capital of the world. Also, sockeye is the best choice for 'lox,' a velvety, lightly smoked salmon often served on bagels.

Sockeye or red salmon about 6 pounds and can grow up to 3 feet in length. More typical, however, is a fish measuring about 20 to 24 inches. As previously mentioned the motherload of sockeye is in the Bristol Bay region where up to 30 million sockeye are caught in an intense June and July fishery. Another 1 million to 6 million sockeye are harvested in Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, and Chignik Lagoon.

In the ocean sockeye are a beautiful silver color without the big black spots found on other salmon species. Then comes spawning! Males preparing to spawn in fresh water develop a prominent hump on their backs as well as nasty looking hooked jaws full of jagged teeth. Both sexes turn a bright red color late in their spawning migrations with the head turning pale to olive. The lower jaw is white. Sockeye or red salmon spawn in rivers and streams and also along lake shores.

Sockeye salmon return to streams to spawn after one to four years in saltwater where they have grown rapidly. Some adult sockeye salmon reach weights in excess of 15 pounds.


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