MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

Salmo salar can grow up to 150 cm in length and weights of 39 kg or more. The colour is dependant on habitat and age. When at sea, the dorsal area is silvery and blue-green, the sides silvery, the belly white and there are dark spots along the lateral line. In freshwater, the silvery colour is lost and the fish becomes a more mottled brown, the spots darken, become larger and are ringed by a paler colour. The number and size of spots and the depth of colour also varies with age and sexual maturity. Atlantic salmon have two dorsal fins, the second is situated near the tail and is small and fleshy with no fin rays. The tail fin is slightly forked.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found all around the coast of Britain and Ireland.

Global distribution

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Habitat

The adult Atlantic salmon spends its a life at sea, returning to freshwater to spawn. The juveniles inhabitat freshwater areas, before migrating to the sea. Juveniles undergo smolting; morphological and physiological changes which allow them to adapt to life in sea-water.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Salmo salar have numerous small black spots mainly on the head and sides.
  • The jaw line of Atlantic salmon extends back to the level of the eye. During breeding season the jaw of the adult male becomes markedly hooked.
  • The tail fan rises at a steep angle from a narrow tail stalk.

Additional information

Due to a highly acute sense of smell, Salmo salar is able to remember the smell of the river in which it was born and on maturity return to these home grounds to spawn (Dipper, 2001). As a result of the numerous hazards, both natural and anthropogenic, most females do not make it back to the sea from their spawning grounds (Dipper, 2001). Salmo salar is a non-shoaling species (Whitehead et al. 1986) and may be confused with the similar looking brown trout (Salmo trutta), which is smaller and has much larger, more widely distributed spots.

Aquaculture of Salmo salar is big business and highly contentious. Production has increased dramatically since the 1960s and now dwarfs the wild salmon fisheries (WWF, 2001). Farming salmon to relieve pressure from wild stocks may seem like a good idea but it can have severe environmental consequences. In Britain, salmon farms are established in Scottish sea lochs and in estuaries. Salmon are cultivated in high concentrations, making them susceptible to parasites and disease. The proximity of these farms to wild populations, and the frequency with which cultivated salmon escape, puts the local wild populations at risk, both from the spread of disease and increased competition (Hendry & Cragg-Hine, 2003).

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Dipper, F., 2001. British sea fishes (2nd edn). Teddington: Underwater World Publications Ltd.

  2. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2004. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line] http://www.fishbase.org, 2004-10-18

  3. Hendry, K. & Cragg-Hine, D., 2003. Ecology of the Atlantic salmon. Conserving Natura 2000, Rivers Ecology Series no. 7., English Nature, Peterborough.

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  5. Wheeler, A., 1969. The fishes of the British Isles and north-west Europe. London: Macmillan.

  6. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

  7. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), 2001. The Status of Wild Atlantic Salmon: A river by river assessment. Report by World Wide Fund for Nature, Canada.

Datasets

  1. BIS for Powys & Brecon Beacons National Park, 2017. Radnorshire Wildlife Trust records held by BIS. Occurrence dataset: https://www.bis.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  2. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records recorded over 15 years ago. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/h1ln5p accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  3. Bristol Regional Environmental Records Centre, 2017. BRERC species records within last 15 years. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/vntgox accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  4. Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Environmental Records Centre, 2017. CPERC Combined Dataset. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/npthhv accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  5. Centre for Environmental Data and Recording, 2018. Ulster Museum Marine Surveys of Northern Ireland Coastal Waters. Occurrence dataset https://www.nmni.com/CEDaR/CEDaR-Centre-for-Environmental-Data-and-Recording.aspx accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-25.

  6. Cofnod – North Wales Environmental Information Service, 2018. Miscellaneous records held on the Cofnod database. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/hcgqsi accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  7. Dorset Environmental Records Centre, 2017. Dorset SSSI Species Records 1952 - 2004 (Natural England). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/vcjzts accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-25.

  8. Environmental Records Information Centre North East, 2018. ERIC NE Combined dataset to 2017. Occurrence dataset: http://www.ericnortheast.org.uk/home.html accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-09-38

  9. Isle of Wight Local Records Centre, 2017. IOW Natural History & Archaeological Society Marine Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/7axhcw accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  10. Kent & Medway Biological Records Centre, 2017. Fish: Records for Kent.. Occurrence dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/kd1utk accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-09-27.

  11. Lancashire Environment Record Network, 2018. LERN Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/esxc9a accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  12. Manx Biological Recording Partnership, 2017. Isle of Man wildlife records from 01/01/2000 to 13/02/2017. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/mopwow accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  13. Merseyside BioBank., 2018. Merseyside BioBank (unverified). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/iou2ld accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  14. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: https://www.nbnatlas.org.

  15. National Trust, 2017. National Trust Species Records. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/opc6g1 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  16. Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service, 2017. NBIS Records to December 2016. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/jca5lo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  17. North East Scotland Biological Records Centre, 2017. NE Scotland fish records 1800-2010. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/kjrwnd accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01.

  18. OBIS,  2018. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2018-10-17

  19. Record, 2018. RECORD Freshwater Fish Data. Occurrence dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/m5tosv accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-01

  20. Rotherham Biological Records Centre, 2017. Rotherham Biological Records Centre - Non-sensitive Records from all taxonomic groups. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/d3tufo accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  21. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. SEWBReC Fish (South East Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/htsfiy accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  22. South East Wales Biodiversity Records Centre, 2018. Dr Mary Gillham Archive Project. Occurance dataset: http://www.sewbrec.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-02

  23. Staffordshire Ecological Record, 2017. SER Species-based Surveys. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/q8qen3 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  24. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation, 2018. UK casual records from members of BASC - 1980 onwards. Occurance dataset: https://basc.org.uk/ accessed via NBNAtlas.org on 2018-10-02.

  25. The Wildlife Information Centre, 2017. The Wildlife Information Centre - BioBlitz Events. Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/1iynpe accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

  26. West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre, 2017. WTSWW Data: All Taxa (West Wales). Occurrence dataset: https://doi.org/10.15468/gaakk2 accessed via GBIF.org on 2018-10-02.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Heard, J.R. 2007. Salmo salar Atlantic salmon. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 17-10-2018]. Available from: https://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/2096

Last Updated: 03/09/2007