Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon.


  • Common name: Sockeye Salmon
  • Scientific name: Oncorhynchus nerka
  • Order: Salmoniformes
  • Subfamily: Salmoninae
  • Indigenous names for this species may be available through the Yukon Native Language Centre

Viewing opportunities

  • You will need to visit the Tatshenhini-Alsek waters to see these fish when they spawn from late summer to early autumn.


  • Small eyes and small, weak teeth.
  • Bright silver blueish colour and have a trout-like body shape.
  • At spawning time they have a dark to brilliant red body, with olive green head; males develop a kype, or hooked jaw, a hump behind the head and more prominent teeth.

Fast facts

  • Length: 45 to 72 cm
  • Weight: 1.5 to 3 kg
  • Habitat: Anadromous

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S2S3 (Imperilled/Vulnerable)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

Not determined.


Sockeye young live in lakes for 1 to 3 years between migrating out to sea or they will migrate quickly from rivers that are not associated with lakes. They spawn in the late summer and early autumn in lake-associated rivers and streams. Sockeye are the anadromous form of Kokanee Salmon.


Aquatic insects and crustaceans; spawning adults do not feed.


Sockeye Salmon distribution map.

Sockeye and people

  • Sockeye Salmon have been an important food source for peoples along the Pacific coast for thousands of years.