Letter | Published:

Salmon-Breeding

Abstract

MR. FRANCIS DAY'S interesting communication last week (p. 488) on this subject is likely to attract more attention from biologists and pisciculturists than any other recently-ascertained fact in the natural history of the Salmonidæ, and it opens the large question how the migratory instinct became established in certain members of the family, when it appears not to be physiologically indispensable to them. At the period of migration, when the smolts are fit to go to the sea, they evince, I believe, the utmost restlessness (like all migratory animals), and frequently leap out of the fresh water in which they are confined, and die on the banks. This has taken place year after year in the nursery ponds on the Plenty River, Tasmania, where it was first placed beyond question that a migratory salmonid could remain and breed perfectly freely year after year in fresh water. On January 20, 1866, Mr. J. A. Youl, C.M.G., sent out to Tasmania a consignment of salmon, salmon-trout, and brown trout (S. fario Ansonii). On June 25, 1869, several parrs of the salmon-trout, then weighing in some instances more than a pound, were busy nesting, the result being that many thousands of fry from their ova were subsequently sent to stock other rivers. The imprisoned salmon-trout have continued to breed for several years in succession, but there has been noticed in them a tendency to become sterile as they grow older. There is also some reason to believe that Salmo salar has bred in the ponds on the Plenty. Two young specimens which, from certain circumstances, the Commissioners believed to be true salmon, were sent to Dr. Günther for examination, with full information as to their origin and history; and he, while expressing his reluctance to give a decided opinion, stated that they “presented all the anatomical characters of S. salar.” Full details of the breeding in fresh water of S. trutta will be found in “The Acclimatisation of the Salmonidæ at the Antipodes—its History and Results.”

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