White salmon

When we are asked, or when we ourselves think of the inhabitants of freshwater bodies, the most common types of fish come to mind, such as zander, perch, pike, crucian carp, etc. However, we know very little about the most cautious and unpopular types of fish , which are often on the verge of extinction due to their rarity. A striking example of just such an inhabitant of the water depths is the whitefish.

White salmon, like nelma, being a representative of whitefish, which belong to the salmon family and species, is a vivid example of predatory inhabitants of fresh water. It should be replaced that this family mainly includes fish with a predominantly red color of meat, in this case, apparently, an exception was made, since the name “White fish” speaks for itself.

The fish got its name because of the color of its own meat (white). Even in the period after the ice age, or approximately at that time, this species of fish migrated from the Arctic Ocean to the regions of the Caspian Sea-lake. Once upon a time, the fish was a common species in Russia, but due to regular catches, at the moment the white salmon is endemic.

The fish itself has a mostly gray-silver body color. In the upper part it may have a brown tint, with blue tints. The fins (8 pieces) of the white fish are also gray, sometimes the dorsal one acquires a brownish tint. The shape of this inhabitant of Russian reservoirs is streamlined, long and slightly flattened on the sides, a typical appearance. White salmon is often called nelma in a different way.

In terms of size, the fish is able to grow in length up to 1.5 meters and more than 16 kilograms. However, such individuals are very rare, and are found mainly in natural reservoirs. Artificially, people breed fish on average no more than 10–12 kg in weight and a meter in length. It should also be noted that the female whitefish is larger and heavier than many males.

The fish mainly lives within the Caspian Sea, as well as near the basin of the Ob and Kama rivers. Much less often it can be found near the White Sea or near the Volga or Ural rivers. Once it was in great demand in Russia and was regularly caught, but due to numerous poaching phenomena, climate change, and also due to the construction of new hydroelectric power plants, the white fish species almost disappeared from the face of the earth around the 80s.

All these consequences have led to the fact that until now this type of fish is actively grown and partially released into the Volga and the Caspian Sea-Lake in order to prevent the extinction of nelma. Also on the territory of Russia, the white fish was forbidden to be caught in reservoirs of natural origin. However, the fish is still in the Russian Red Book due to the rarity and difficulty of growing.

Since nelma is a prominent representative of predatory fish, its diet includes small inhabitants of reservoirs and crustaceans, mysids and larvae. When an individual grows up, after about 5-7 years, it begins to feed on gobies, and sprat, and other fish. The average lifespan of a whitefish is approximately 10–12 years. It is worth noting that, both in size and lifespan, females are much more tenacious.

At about 6 years old, the fish matures and is ready to continue its species, for this it begins to spawn. To do this, individuals of the whitefish leave the Caspian Sea basin and go towards the rivers, mainly the Volga. This happens around the end of autumn – the beginning of winter, when the temperature of the reservoir is not too high and not too low, about 6-7 degrees.

After the white fish postpones the game, it does not linger in river reservoirs and immediately returns to the Caspian Sea. In total, nelma postpones the game no more than 2 times in a lifetime. When the juveniles hatch, they live in the rivers for some time, however, after that they swim to the depths of the Caspian basin. Juveniles are so rarely seen by fishermen that little is known about their life in natural waters.

At its core, the white fish is a very cautious and cunning fish, it rarely comes across when caught, mostly nelma lives in the depths of water bodies. Therefore, nelma is often bred artificially, to replenish the population and for sale. Such fish is very expensive in the market, due to the complexity of its breeding. The white fish itself has white, juicy and fatty meat and is considered a delicacy.

There are not so many natural enemies of whitefish, since the fish itself is predatory. The main threat to this type of fish is poachers, because of the constant illegal catches, the population of the species has not been able to recover for many years. Also, another enemy not only for the whitefish, but also for all the inhabitants of the reservoirs, are factories with chemical waste and clogging of reservoirs in general.

The smallest, but still a threat to fish, are hydroelectric power stations, due to water circulation , its heating and the change in the natural content of oxygen and other elements, some species cannot adapt to new conditions, and they partly swim away to other places, partly simply disappear. And in general, often the products of human activity not only violate the natural structure of water and habitat, they can also lead to the extinction of populations.

In conclusion, I would like to note that there are a huge number of little-known organisms on the planet, many of of them are endemic, many have already become extinct. Often the reason for this is not so much the climate and natural environment, but the person himself and the result of his life. At the moment, the white fish is a rare species, the population of which is forbidden to be touched in natural reservoirs, and the reason for this is the massive catching of nelma until the 80s.

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