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Scottish Salmon

The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L)

The "king of fishes" is widely distributed around the North Atlantic, with populations in Canada and the USA to the east , Iceland and Norway to the North and within the EU, it's distribution ranges from Portugal in the south to Sweden and Finland in the north. The UK salmon population comprises a significant proportion of the total European stock. Scottish rivers in particular are a European stronghold for the species.

The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L) is an anadromous fish species (i.e. adults migrate from the sea to breed in freshwater). Spawning takes place in shallow excavations called redds, found in shallow gravelly areas in clean rivers and streams where the water flows swiftly. The young that emerge spread out into other parts of the river. After a period of 1-4 years the young salmon migrate downstream to the sea as 'smolts'. Salmon have a homing instinct that draws them back to spawn in the river of their birth after 1-3 years in the sea. Unlike their Pacific cousins, Atlantic salmon do not automatically die following spawning, and some survive and make their way back to sea, where they can regain condition and repeat their spawning migration. The homing behaviour of Atlantic salmon has resulted in the formation of genetically distinct stocks between rivers and even within some individual rivers.

Atlantic salmon are subject to many pressures in Europe, including pollution, the introduction of non-native salmon stocks, physical barriers to migration, exploitation from netting and angling, physical degradation of spawning and nursery habitat, and increased marine mortality. Concerted efforts (such as those being undertaken by the LIFE project) are necessary to provide protection and restore declining salmon populations.

For more facts on the lives of Atlantic salmon follow this link:

For further information on the management of Atlantic salmon follow this link:

For more about the conservation of Atlantic salmon in the Lower Shannon catchment in Ireland: follow this link:

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Picture of salmon eggs (roe)
Picture of two baby salmon (alevin)
Picture of a closeup of a salmon head