Seasonally, salmon make their way from the open ocean to freshwater—most often, the streams in which they were born—to spawn. It’s an amazing journey for an animal that’s critically important in a variety of ways.
Salmon are a keystone species, which means they hold a unique and essential place in the health and functioning of an ecosystem—and without them the ecosystem would change dramatically. Their health can serve as an indicator of the health of their habitats. They’re a vital food source for a variety of wildlife. And, of course, they’re a very popular food source for humans, and play an integral role in Pacific Northwest tribal culture.
Visit the Aquarium’s salmon exhibit to learn more about these critically important fish and to see them at varying stages of early development—from egg to alevin to fry to yearling—depending on time of year and species. If you visit in the spring, you’ll see fish in the process of smoltification: transitioning from freshwater to salt water, representing the journey made by wild stocks at the same time of year. You can also look for adult salmon, which have outgrown the salmon exhibit, in the Window on Washington Waters and Underwater Dome exhibits!