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A salmon swimming in the ocean.

Mob Menagerie: Salmon

A scaly swimmer that spawns in schools

Taking a swim in a cold ocean is one of the most invigorating experiences in the Overworld, which is probably why there’s so much life bobbing about below the waves. You’ll find squid! Cod! Dolphins! But most importantly for the narrative purposes of our article today, you’ll find salmon – our mob of the month.

Salmon have been spotted in the beautiful briny deeps ever since the Update Aquatic in July 2018. Fish existed in the game before that, but it wasn’t until then that Mojang’s marine biology team noticed that they came in different species. That’s when salmon, along with cod and tropical fish, became a thing.

Salmon are found in oceans – cold oceans, deep cold oceans, frozen oceans, and deep frozen oceans. But they’re also the only kind of fish you’ll find swimming in rivers, making them a good option when you’ve set up home far from the sea.

They spawn in groups of 1-5, and in Bedrock Edition they come in three sizes – small, medium and large. They swim around in schools, and can even swim up waterfalls – just like real-world salmon. If you want to pick one up, use a water bucket on it, and then use that bucket on another water block to empty it again.

Like other fish, salmon can’t survive out of water – they’ll jump around a bit trying to get back in, and eventually suffocate and die. When killed, in water or out of it, salmon drop raw salmon, and some experience, as well as a chance of dropping bonemeal (in Java Edition) or a bone (in Bedrock Edition).

Salmon have been swimming around the seas of the northern hemisphere on Earth for tens of millions of years, and have been part of the culture of coastal humans for at least 5,000 years. They’re born in rivers, swim out to the ocean when they become adults, and then return back to rivers to reproduce.

It’s believed that salmon try to return to the exact stream where they were born in order to breed, and tracking studies have found that this is mostly true, though a proportion do always end up getting lost and going elsewhere instead.

Salmon populations used to be enormous, particularly around the coasts of the US and Canada. They were eaten by the native inhabitants of North America, but they also looked to the salmon for spiritual guidance and they developed many practices to keep salmon populations healthy.

After the arrival of Europeans, however, these practices were lost and the population plunged. It’s thought that for every 100 salmon alive in 1800, there’s less than 1 alive today. Damming of rivers, preventing the fish from reaching their spawning grounds, has also had a huge impact. Today, most salmon are grown in industrial fish farms instead.

Happily, the populations of salmon in Minecraft are in a much healthier state, and you’ll never run out of fish, so go ahead and catch them without guilt!

Duncan Geere
Written By
Duncan Geere
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