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Salmon has an important place in the history of Canada and the people who lived here. In the Pacific Northwest, salmon have been a key part of First Nation’s economies, religions, and cultures for millennia. In the early years of British Columbia, Pacific Salmon were a critical part of the development of the province’s economy. Nowadays Canada is one of the largest producers and exporters of salmon in the world.
Here are some fun facts about one of our favourite fish!
1) Salmon can live in salt AND fresh water!
Fish that can live in salt and fresh water environments are known as “anadromous”. In the case of salmon, they are born in fresh water environments, and move to the ocean after a few years when they reach maturity. They head back to freshwater when its time to spawn.
2) Salmon have a very strong sense of smell.
3) Salmon change colour!
For example, juvenile sockeye salmon are light coloured and spotted in colour, but turn a pale silvery colour when they move to the ocean. However, when it’s time to return to fresh water and spawn, they turn the brilliant red colour (with green heads!) we tend to associate with salmon.
4) Salmon are the official fish of British Columbia.
Not surprising, considering how important they were to the First Nations people and to the province’s economy!
5) Salmon are a ‘key stone’ species.
This means that they have a disproportionately large impact on the environment relative to how many of the species there are. If salmon were to disappear from their ecosystems, there would be huge changes. For example, when salmon die their bodies return valuable nutrients to the soil. Scientists have been able to trace these nutrients from salmon bodies and have found them in mosses, shrubs, herbs, insects, song birds, bears, wolves, and more!
So next time you tuck into a big piece of salmon, whether it be grilled or smoked or baked, make sure you remember how important they are to our history and our ecosystems, and try to always buy responsibility and sustainability sourced seafood!
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