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How to Use Your Hand to Identify the Five Types of Alaska Salmon

How to Use Your Hand to Identify the Five Types of Alaska Salmon

If you visit Alaska during the summer season there is a good chance you can find a creek or river to watch the salmon run.  Most salmon in Alaska live mostly in the saltwater ocean.  When they are mature and it is time for them to reproduce, they “run up” freshwater rivers in the salmon run to spawn.

While your family is checking out the running or spawning salmon, you should take the opportunity to teach your kids about one of the most important food sources in Alaska using their hands.   It’s pretty easy to do!

  • Chum rhymes with thumb.  Chum are also known as dog fish, because it is the least desirable type – and they were fed to the dogs.
  • You can sock someone’s eye out with your pointing finger.  So that’s Sockeye, also known as red.
  • Your largest finger, or your king finger, is your middle.  It is for King Salmon, also known as Chinook.
  • Your ring finger stands for the Silver Salmon, also known as coho.
  • Pinkie = pink, obviously!  Pink salmon are also known as humpback or humpies.

How to Learn the Types of Salmon in Alaska


  1. Muza-chan 7 February, 2013

    Very interesting 🙂

  2. Johanna at ZigaZag WA Travel & Lifestyle 7 February, 2013

    Wow, well you live and learn! I never thought I’d be learning about salmon – now this is something I should point my fishing mad son towards too 🙂

  3. Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary in Anchorage, Alaska 13 February, 2013

    […] Rabbit Creek flows underneath the boardwalk about halfway through.  It is supposed to be a great place to see spawning salmon.  If you want a cool teaching tool to help you learn all five types of Alaskan salmon, try this handy way. […]

  4. Eric Jordan 19 February, 2014

    Amy, Chum salmon are actually the lightest tasting and often the preferred salmon flavor for some of us long time salmon connoisseurs. Well, next to ocean fresh feeding white kings. Unfortunately, they are the quickest salmon to turn their body fats into spawning colors as they move into their spawning rivers and streams. But, ocean fresh, they are arguably one of the finest tasting salmon.

  5. ole & LaDonna Gundersen 9 May, 2014

    We 100% agree with Eric Jordan.

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  7. Paulina 9 March, 2017

    Kick the tires and light the fires, problem oficlialfy solved!