Gene Conservation Laboratory
The Salmon Story — Spawning

Salmon eggs

1. Spawning

The salmon life cycle begins when the adults spawn in freshwater. The female lays the eggs in gravel nests (called redds) that she digs with her tail, and the males fertilize the eggs as soon as they are laid. Each female lays thousands of eggs. Salmon eggs are bigger than most fish eggs, and they contain a lot of nutrients (yolk) to feed the developing embryo. The Pacific salmon die after they spawn; unlike many other fishes, they only get to spawn once during their life.

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