Family Salmonidae

Salmons and Trouts


Selected Characters: Adipose fin present; prominent lateral line; pelvic axillary process present; no fin spines.

The members of this family may be anadromous or freshwater; none are strictly marine. All salmonids are native to the Northern Hemisphere, but they have been introduced to many areas around the world. There are currently about 66 species recognized in this family, but the diversity of the salmonids is actually greater than this number suggests. Most of our Puget Sound salmonids belong to the genus Oncorhynchus, the Pacific salmons and trouts. Most species in this genus are anadromous and have a remarkable homing ability, typically returning to their natal streams to spawn even after having migrated hundreds or thousands of miles in the ocean. Of all the salmonid species found in Puget Sound, most are strictly anadromous and the Cutthroat Trout, Steelhead, and Dolly Varden can be either freshwater or anadromous. Salmonids can reach large sizes and are commercially important. Our Chinook Salmon is the largest member of the family, at a maximum length of 147 cm. Many salmonids die shortly after spawning, but some percentage of the annual runs of Cutthroat Trout, Steelhead, Dolly Varden and Atlantic Salmon can survive to spawn a second or occasionally even a third time. The Atlantic Salmon is not native to our area but has been repeatedly introduced (fortunately, without much success), and is not common in the northwest. In general, however, this family is common in Puget Sound -- but populations are declining, largely because of human activities.

Puget Sound Species

Oncorhynchus clarkii Cutthroat Trout

Oncorhynchus gorbuscha Pink Salmon

Oncorhynchus keta Chum Salmon

Oncorhynchus kisutch Coho Salmon

Oncorhynchus mykiss Steelhead (Rainbow Trout)

Oncorhynchus nerka Sockeye Salmon

Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Chinook Salmon (King Salmon)

Salmo salar Atlantic Salmon

Salvelinus malma Dolly Varden