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Taxonomy

Phylum: Chordata (the Chordates)
Class: Osteichthyes (the Bony Fishes)
Order: Salmoniformes
Family: Salmonidae
Genus: Salmo
Species: Salmo salar

Describer of the Atlantic salmon:


Salmo salar
, meaning 'The Leaper' was named and described scientifically in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus, the great Swedish Taxonomist and Botanist.

But it was not until well into the first part of the 19th century that it was proven that Atlantic salmon (the adults) were the same species as the striped parr found in the rivers.

Salmo salar Description:


Body elongated and hydrodynamic, laterally compressed, with a slender caudal peduncle (base of tail). The mouth is at the front of the head, maxillary extending slightly beyond posterior margin of eye in very large males, but below eyes in females and smaller adults. Has sharp teeth. Total of 15 to 20 gill rakers, and four sets of gills. Fins include dorsal, adipose (posterior dorsal), caudal with a distinct fork, anal fins, pelvic fins, pectoral fins. Scales are cycloid, with 109 to 124 in the lateral line. There are 10 to 13 scales from the posterior edge of base of the adipose fin to the lateral line. The lateral line curves downward anteriorly, somewhat straight along rest of the side of the salmon. The Atlantic salmon has 40 to 74 pyloric caeca, and 58 to 61 vertebrae. The Atlantic salmon is genetically tetraploid - that means that at some point the number of chromosomes doubled. According to Atlantic Fishes of Canada by B. Scott and M. Scott, the Atlantic salmon is without subspecies. Nevertheless genetically it now appears that they are very river-specific in their attributes, designed for particular river systems. Basically this is encouraged by their mating within the river system of their birth, with only a very small wandering rate to other river systems. The Atlantic salmon is somewhat unusual in having a variable number of chromosomes, even within offspring from a single female . The number will vary between 54 and 60.

Common Names

Atlantic salmon, lake Atlantic salmon, ouananiche, landlocked salmon, black salmon, sebago salmon, sebago, grilse, kelt, spink (spent fish), racer, smolt (young going to sea), parr (with the vertical stripes in fresh water called 'parr marks'), and in French: saumon atlantique.

Names in a Variety of Languages

    Atlantic salmon (English)
    saumon atlantique (French)
    Lachs (German)
    salmones (Spanish)
    braddan and bradan (Gaelic)
    bratan (Early Irish)
    iach (ancient Celtic)
    laks (Norway)
    lax (Sweden)
    laxa (Iceland)
    losos (Russian)
    chirich (Medieval Russian)
    lohi (Finnish)
    plamu (Mi’kmaq) - small plamu’j or even plamu’jij