From river to ocean

Fundy National Park

The incredible life cycle of Atlantic salmon

Although they are famous for their size and strength, Atlantic salmon start out very small. Laid in gravel nests, salmon eggs slightly larger than the head of a pin develop in stream bottoms for months before hatching in late spring.

Freshly hatched, these alevin hide between rocks, relying on their energy-rich yolk sac until they are strong enough to explore flowing water. Over the next two years, these young salmon will develop from fry to parr, feeding on insects and small fish.

Life in fresh water for Fundy juvenile Atlantic salmon lasts two to four years. After this time, in late spring, salmon parr lose their marks and turn bright silver. These fish, now called smolt, leave their rivers to move to salt water.

Living in the ocean opens up new food sources for salmon to feed on. These fish can grow very quickly, with some salmon growing over 100 times their weight in only one year!

Next part: Swimming with the tides

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