What Animals Eat Salmon?

Some of the most common predators that eat salmon include bears, otters, eagles, osprey, sharks and humans. Salmon have a wide range of predators that feed on them throughout every stage of their lives.

Due to their migratory patterns through several ecosystems and the fact that they are a nutritionally rich food source, salmon have many predators. Small fish, raccoons and ducks often forage for and eat salmon eggs. Minks, otters, herons, and bass consume salmon during the early stages of their life cycle. Eagles, hawks, orcas, seals, sharks and sea lions often eat adult salmon. Humans are the biggest consumer and threat to salmon. When salmon return to fresh water to spawn, bears and eagles are their most common predators.

Most species of salmon are anadromous, meaning that they are born in fresh water, migrate to saltwater and then return to fresh water to reproduce. Few species remain in fresh water for their entire life cycles. Salmon eggs are laid in streams, usually at high altitudes. The young fish hatch and remain in their freshwater stream for six months to three years before developing into smolts and migrating to the ocean. Juvenile salmon spend anywhere from one to five years in the open ocean before reaching sexual maturity and returning to their freshwater stream. The salmon sometimes journey hundreds of miles upstream to spawn. After spawning, most salmon typically die within a few days or weeks.