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Wild Alaskan Keta Salmon

Keta (Chum) Salmon

Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus Keta

Market Names: Chum, Keta, Silverbrite

Vernacular Names: Dog Salmon, Calico Salmon, Chub, Keta Salmon

Description: Keta Salmon have greenish-blue backs with silver splashes in the tail. It looks very similar to a Sockeye salmon when ocean fresh. Keta salmon range from 6-17 pounds and are mature at 3-6 years old. The Keta salmon has very light colored flesh and is very mild in flavor.

Life Cycle: There are several stages to the life cycle of an Alaska Keta Salmon, eggs- alevins-fry-smolt-adult-spawning adult. An adult salmon deposits her eggs in gravel beds (also called redds) in freshwater streams and rivers. Once the eggs have been fertilized by the male Keta salmon the embryos will incubate over the winter months and then hatch into alevins in late winter. In the alevins phase of life the Keta salmon take on a strange appearance having large eyes, a ballooning orange sack and pencil like body. Approximately 4 months after becoming an alevin the young Keta salmon changes into a fry. A Keta salmon fry averages 1 inch in length, has an elongated body and is free swimming. A newly emerged Keta smolt migrates immediately to the ocean unlike the King salmon, Coho and the Sockeye who spend 1-2 years in fresh water. A fry blossoms into a smolt when it is ready to head to the ocean were it will stay for 3-5 years before maturing into an adult Keta salmon. The mature female and male salmon will begin its journey back to its place of origin were the female Keta salmon will deposit her bounty of eggs and the male will fertilize the eggs and then both will die, continuing the salmon life cycle.

Keta Salmon gets the name “dog salmon” partially due to its many sharp and large teeth and because of the hook nose of the male salmon.

Run Times: Keta salmon runs are typically seen in Alaska starting in mid June and running through mid September.

Record weight sport caught Keta salmon: 32 lbs. caught by Fredrick Thynes in 1985 while fishing near Caamano Point.

Nutritional Information: One ˝ lb. fillet of Keta Salmon has 237.6 calories, 39.8 grams of protein, 7.4 grams of fat, 1.6 grams of saturated fat and 99 milligrams of sodium.

Click on the links below to learn about other Wild Caught Seafood.

Chinook (King) Salmon

Sockeye (Red) Salmon

Coho (Silver) Salmon

Keta (Dog) Salmon

Alaskan Halibut


Eggs (Ova)

Salmon are born in gravel nests at the bottom of stream and river beds in the form of a slightly translucent eggs about the size of a pencil eraser. The eggs are usually red to pink in color and spherical in shape. During the 2 to 3 month period it take the eggs to hatch, their eyes and other organs can be seen developing through the translucent shell of the egg.


When the salmon egg is ready to hatch, the baby salmon will break free of the egg's soft shell retaining the yolk as a nutrient-rich sac that hangs below it's body. At this stage, they are called Alevin and are about one inch in length. During the next month, the alevin will remain hidden in the gravel nest and feed from the nutrient-rich yolk sac until it is completely absorbed.



The tiny salmon leave their gravel nest and begin to swim and feed for themselves. At this stage they are called Fry and take the form of tiny fish. It's also at this time that they start their journey downstream. The first part of their journey is a difficult one as the small vulnerable fry must hide under rocks and among vegetation to avoid predators such as birds, insects, and other fish. At the same time, they must find food to survive.


After several months, as the Fry feed and grow, they develop vertical markings on the flanks of their bodies. At this stage they are called Parr and are about six inches in length. Though a bit bigger they still must hide from predators and continue their journey towards the ocean. Parr will continue to feed for 1 to 3 years before they are ready venture out into the ocean.



At this point, the juvenile salmon loses its vertical markings on its body and turns silvery in color. Now considered Smolt, they will school together in large groups. It's at this time that the young salmon will adjust their bodies to saltwater, allowing them to swim out into the Pacific Ocean to feed and grow into adult salmon.


Adult salmon spend 1 to 4 years in the ocean swimming and feeding throughout the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. They grow to their adult size and develop unique adult markings that are different for all five species of Alaska salmon. Their ocean journey is long and hazardous, as they are constantly hunted by seals, orca whales, and fishermen. After swimming more than 2000 miles throughout the northern Pacific Ocean they return to their original spawning grounds to spawn. In some cases, young adult salmon return early before they have fully grown. These particular salmon are called Jacks or Jennies.

Spawning Adult

Upon reaching their birth rivers and streams, the adult salmon re-adapt to the fresh water and begin their upstream journey to their natal stream where they were born. At this time, they cease to feed and live on the stores of fat within their bodies. Their upstream journey is a challenging one, swimming against rugged rapids, leaping over rocky waterfalls, traversing fish ladders, avoiding fishermen's nets and hooks, and staying clear of hungry bears and birds. When they finally reach their natal stream they have reached sexual maturation and are ready to spawn. The female adult clears a spot in the streambed by sweeping her tail back and forth creating a gravel nest that is referred to as a redd. She will then lay her eggs in this redd and the male adult salmon will fertilize and protect them until both salmon die within a couple of weeks and leave the embryos to fend for themselves.

It is quite obvious that Alaska salmon have interesting lives. One has to admit that a salmon that has returned to it's birth stream after years at sea is an admirable fish to say the least. Due to the excellent salmon management practices that now exist in Alaska, salmon populations are well protected. Environmental regulations help protect their spawning grounds while fishing regulations allow for large amounts of spawning salmon to make it to their natal streams. Salmon are studied and managed in "stocks" which are groups of salmon that return and spawn in the same rivers and streams. Currently, in Alaska, the Department of Fish and Game manages over 15,000 salmon streams.



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