Atlantic Salmon

Atlantic Salmon – Everything Cycles Onwards

Atlantic Salmon illustrated by Ravenari


Knowledge and wisdom. Reaching for the truth. Hard journeys are worth it. Don’t let difficulty put you off. Fresh water and salt water. If at first you don’t succeed… Water wisdom. Are you swimming with or against the current? Hone your senses. Ley lines. Sensitivity to invisible fields. The world’s knowledge. Connection to myth. Connection to deity. Transformation. Everything moves in cycles.


The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is the largest salmon species, a ray-finned fish that can grow over a metre. It is found in the northern Atlantic Ocean and its attached rivers. Young fresh water salmon have blue and red spots, as adults they take on a silver-blue sheen. Maturity is indicated by black spots above the lateral line. They have well-developed teeth, and all their fin except for the adipose fin are bordered with black. Most Atlantic salmon hatch in streams and rivers, but move out to sea as they mature, and then return to the river to spawn. These cycles have corresponding colour and appearance changes. Some Atlantic salmon have become landlocked over time. Atlantic salmon can survive spawning – though this is the exception rather than the norm – and will return to the sea when they can, to repeat the process again. The life stages of the fish are known as alevin, fry, parr and smolt. The Atlantic salmon as an adult is aggressive towards other fish, especially compared to other salmon, and will only school in estuaries. They are a cold-water fish species, and very sensitive to temperature fluctuation.

Due to the life cycle of the Atlantic salmon, they are extremely susceptible to predation. Around 40% are eaten by trout, others are eaten by fish and birds, eggs can even be eaten by other young salmon. Atlantic salmon can also be killed by habitat disturbance and pollution. In the ocean, they are hunted by humans, seals, sharks, skate, cod, dolphins and halibut. Only a small-to-medium percentage of salmon survive to the spawning stage of their life cycle.

When young, salmon spend 1-4 years in their birth river eating flying insects and even salmon eggs, and then smoltify when they reach a large enough size, which changes their pattern from river-camouflage to the shiny-sided seagoing pattern. Internally, their hormones will change to allow them to survive better in seawater. They will then swim with the current instead of against it. Young smolt feed on plankton and fry from other fish. In the ocean, they tend to stay in surface sea currents, and do not swim particularly long distances from their birth river. Adults prefer to eat capelin. When Atlantic salmon are ready, they seek their birth river. Only a very small percentage (5) of salmon go up the wrong river.

Atlantic Salmon are one of the most recognisable of fish species out there, eaten in countries all over the world, considered to be very healthy and even refined, its fishing legislated for centuries, with a rich repository of folklore associated with it. Its greatest threats are fishing and habitat destruction. Atlantic salmon are also farmed in aquaculture, though this has drawn criticism from environmentalists, and can cause Atlantic salmon to escape and reduce the genetic diversity of wild populations, which threatens their adaptability. Atlantic salmon streams have been blocked by lumber dams, leading to local extinctions. Iron in their lateral line allows them to sense shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field.