Pink Salmon


Oncorhynchus gorbuscha

ALSO KNOWN AS Humpback salmon, Humpy, Gorbusch

Pink salmon are the most abundant and the smallest of the Pacific salmon found in North America, weighing between 3.5 pounds with an average length of 20 to 25 inches. They account for almost half of the salmon harvested in Alaska’s fisheries and are most commonly produced as canned salmon. They have been harvested and commercially canned in Alaska since the late 1800s.

Pink salmon’s meat is paler and lacks the orange tint distinct to the other salmon species. True to their name, their meat is pink. It is low in oil and generally lean and mild-flavoured. Its texture is soft with a small flake. Like the other salmon species, pink salmon are low in sodium, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and a very good source of protein, niacin, vitamin B12, and selenium.

They are distinguished from other Pacific salmon by large dark oval spots on their back and tail fin, as well as their general colouring and form. In salt water, pink salmon are steel blue to blue-green with silver sides and a white belly. Sexually-mature males have dark backs and red with brownish-green blotches on their sides. They also develop a hump on their back, hence their “humpback” salmon nickname. Sexually-mature females, on the other hand, are similar but less distinctly coloured. Pink salmon typically spawn around 2 years of age and die shortly after. The pink salmon life cycle is very regular and has resulted in a genetically distinct odd-year and even-year populations.

Pink salmon are found from Alaska to Puget Sound. They are harvested primarily by purse seine, reef net, and gillnet fishing gear.

Coldfish’s pink salmon are available fresh or frozen, dressed head on/head off, and in fillets and portions. Fresh fish are available from late summer to fall, while frozen is available year-round.