The Life of a Salmon Part 3: Smolts

Previously on this series, The Life of a Salmon, we discussed eggs and alevins.  With the Walking with the Smolts Celebration TOMORROW, it seems like the perfect time to discuss the next life stage – smolts.

Once salmon grow larger in the river, they become smolts and migrate downstream. When they reach the estuary where the river meets the ocean, they begin adapting to the salt water. Smolts develop the ability to swallow salt water and expel the salt in their urine and through their gills. They also begin to form scales on their skin, giving them a silvery colour. Estuary life is abundant with food, so smolts can grow rapidly, but estuaries are also home to many predators, such as birds, reptiles and larger fish, and also to human development.

Coho_smolt2Now that the salmon have grown larger and developed a silvery colour, smolts begin to resemble adult salmon. What a great time to go over to parts of a salmon! Salmon use their fins and tail to move, their eyes to see, mouths to eat, and gills to breathe.

 

The figure below is from the Salmon in the Classroom program:

smolt diagram

 

by Splitrock Environmental