Spawning salmon turn bright red

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If you come across a bright red salmon in theStrawberryRiver, it can only mean one thing: it’s time to spawn.

The Kokanee Salmon are usually silver in color, and only become red during the spawning season.

There are many theories as to why they change colors and sexual selection is one of them.

Alan Ward, Strawberry Project leader, says, “The females will select for the males that have the brightest colors and the biggest humps on their back.”

Other species of fish survive spawning season, but the Kokanee Salmon die shortly after.

Ward says, “So when they come up into these streams to spawn, they are basically saying . . . the future is dependent on all . . . those eggs that they’re laying.”

The trap facility behind the visitor’s center at Strawberry River, helps Mother Nature along by fertilizing Kokanee eggs.The eggs then go to the hatchery, and eventually return to Strawberry River the following spring.

The Kokanee Salmon are not commonly found in Utah, but are plentiful in Flaming Gorge.

Erin Jones, a Wildlife Technician, says, “They’re just such cool looking fish that you gotta come check them out.”

The annual Kokanee Salmon Viewing day is Saturday, September 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information on the event can be found at: http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/news/42-utah-wildlife-news/906-see-kokanee-at-strawberry.html.

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