The Life of a Salmon: Fry

Salmon have just recently entered the spawning channel, and right now they are in a stage called fry. In this life stage, they are slightly smaller than smolts and begin to develop a spotted pattern, called parr marks.


Figure 1. Parr Marks on Salmon Fry. Photo Credit: Michael Wigle


Being so small, fry are not strong enough to swim upstream, so they drift downstream and find a gentle backeddy, which will be their feeding ground until they become larger. Fry must be very careful when looking for food because they may become food themselves! They have many predators, including blue herons, kingfishers, small mammals and other animals. Fry have a very important job, aside from not getting eaten: they must remember exactly where they were hatched. This is called imprinting. When the fry are bigger and ready to spawn, the salmon will leave the ocean and go back to the exact spot where they were born and lay or fertilize their eggs. That’s a pretty big responsibility for such a little fish!


Work Cited
Bowler, B., Johnson, M., Lowen, D. (1998). Salmonoids in the Classroom: Primary. Retrieved from:   

by Splitrock Environmental