A female Atlantic salmon underwater

Atlantic salmon

Atlantic salmon are truly magnificent fish. They ooze power and strength as they make the spectacular leaps up raging rivers to their spawning grounds. They are accomplished navigators too, able to return to the exact spot they were born from thousands of miles away. Unlike their Pacific cousins, many Atlantic salmon survive the spawning season and return to the sea, possibly repeating the arduous migration three times in a lifetime. Out at sea, they stay in the surface waters, venturing no deeper than 10 metres down. Their diet consists of other fish, squid and shrimp.

Scientific name: Salmo salar

Rank: Species

Watch video clips from past programmes (8 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.

View all 8 video clips


The Atlantic salmon can be found in a number of locations including: Europe, North America, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Atlantic salmon distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 1996

Classified by: IUCN 2.3

BBC News about Atlantic salmon

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • Nature: Behind the Scenes Nature: Behind the Scenes

    The BBC has been producing ground-breaking wildlife programmes from across the globe for over 50 years.

  • Wild autumn Wild autumn

    Autumn - a time of great change, of breathtaking migrations, of high drama.