Keta Salmon

Written by Jared Vincenti
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Also known as the Chum Salmon or the Dog Salmon, Keta Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) have the broadest range of any Pacific Salmon. Found as far South as the Sacramento River in California, the Keta Salmon travel upriver to lay their eggs in eelgrass and other aquatic plants. Growing in popularity among salmon lovers, the State of Alaska has started a few Keta farms to help bolster their numbers.

The Life of Keta Salmon

Keta Salmon are unlike most other salmon in that they do not need to spend their juvenile years in freshwater, but can instead move out to sea shortly after hatching. They spend at least one winter out in the Bering Sea (or similar area away from shore) before traveling back upstream. Many Keta Salmon swim up the Yukon River each year, and images of these fish have become famous for the salmon jumping upstream against the current.

When preparing for their journeys, Keta Salmon have the highest levels of oil in their bodies--perhaps stored energy in preparation for the journey. Added to the salmon's keen sense of direction is the fact that the fish that have the farthest to travel often have the highest levels of oil, so the salmon are well prepared. This could be part of the reason why farmed salmon have lower levels of oils and omega-3 fatty acids than wild fish.

The Keta Salmon is a middle-ground fish for both commercial and sports fishers. The annual catch is roughly 11 million fish in Alaska--less than the sockeye, but more than the King Salmon. Sportsmen often catch them when angling for other types of salmon, but rarely are they the intended victims. Keta meat dries very well, and most salmon jerky is made from Keta Salmon.

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