Table of contents:
- Dimensions and weight
- Life span
- Economic value
Video: Beluga (Huso Huso)
Beluga (Beluga, European Sturgeon) is one of the largest anadromous fish in our country. The body of the beluga is massive, thick (huso in Latin means pig). In most large rivers, it has winter and spring forms. It has a high growth rate and excellent appetite (up to 10-15% of body weight per day). Already at the end of the first year of life it grows up to 40 cm, by 5 years its dimensions exceed 1 m (weight up to 18 kg), and by 10 years the body length is 1.5 m (weight up to 45 kg). Leads a bottom-pelagic lifestyle. Occurs in the sea with a very wide salinity range.
The body is massive, thick; the snout is short, blunt. Dorsal beetles 11-14 (first smallest), lateral 41-52, abdominal 9-11. The beluga has at least 60 rays in the dorsal fin and 28-41 in the anal fin. Dorsal beetles - 9-17, lateral - 37-53, ventral - 7. Gill stamens 24. The mouth is lower, in the closed state, sickle-shaped, in the slightly open - crescent, but not passing to the sides of the head. Antennae, laterally flattened, with leaf-like appendages; the lower lip is cut off. Sexual dimorphism is weak. It forms a cross with sterlet, Russian sturgeon, thorn and stellate sturgeon.
The Azov beluga differs from the Black Sea in a short, wide and high head, a wide forehead and snout, a tall body, a high caudal stem and a lighter color.
Dimensions and weight
Beluga is one of our largest fish. Reaches over 5 m in length and 1500 kg in weight; in the Volga-Caspian region, more often 65-150 kg. Near Saratov in 1864, a
beluga weighing 60 pounds was caught, in which there were 9 pounds of caviar. The usual size of fish in catches in the river. Volga at the beginning of the last century was in the range of 58–83 kg at the age of 13–26 years.
One of the longest living fish. Reaches the age of 100 years or more.
Related article Kaluga (Huso dauricus)
The back and sides of the body are grayish-dark, the belly is white.
Basins of the Caspian, Black and Azov seas.
Sliding young beluga (1.5-7 g) in the river feed on amphipods, mysids, larvae of chironomids, mayflies, caddis flies, as well as oligochaetes, caviar and larvae of sturgeon and other fish. Large beluga fry eat sevrugat and sturgeon. Cannibalism is characteristic of juvenile beluga. The composition of the diet changes as it grows. In the first year of life, young of the year beluga on sea pastures continue to feed on crustaceans (gammarids, mysids), mollusks (metilaster, zebra mussel, cardium) and fish (gobies, gobies, sprat, herring and carp fry). In the second year of life, Belugaians almost completely switch to a predatory lifestyle. The share of fish in the food lump reaches 98%. The nature of the beluga food varies with the seasons and depending on the feeding grounds.
Beluga on marine pastures does not stop feeding throughout the year, but in winter the intensity of feeding is much lower. During the wintering period in the river, the beluga does not stop feeding. 60-70% of belugas caught in winter have empty stomachs. In the stomach of one female beluga weighing 280 kg, caught in the delta, a 9-year-old male sturgeon weighing 9.3 kg, 8 roach and 1 bream was found, and in the other female - 2 carp (2.6 and 3.8 kg), 14 roach and 3 bream, as well as bones of the skeleton of a large pike perch.
The beluga caviar developing on the spawning grounds is exterminated by gudgeon, gobies, spiny lobster, white-eyed, bream, catfish, sterlet, grown up young beluga (5-8 cm), one- and two-year-old hisses. Beluga prelarvae and larvae are eaten by sabrefish, blue bream and juvenile pike. In the sea, the beluga has practically no enemies.
Beluga is an anadromous fish. The spawning run is observed in spring and autumn. The beluga rises to the Volga from the Caspian Sea twice: in spring and autumn. The peak of the rise of the spring beluga occurs from the end of March to the end of April, the maximum rise of the winter one is in September-October.
Beluga is found in separate individuals in the delta in January and February. By mid-May, the course usually ends, and in June-July, the beluga is caught only by individual individuals. Autumn rise begins in August. In terms of quantity, winter beluga prevails in the Volga delta. Spring beluga begins to enter the Urals from the middle of March; this beluga spawns in the Urals delta in mid-May. Beluga, which entered the Urals in late spring and early summer, as well as in autumn, belongs to the winter race; it lies in the river in pits for the winter, then rises in the spring, goes up the Urals and spawns in early May.
Spawns in the middle Volga in the second half of May, in the lower reaches of the Urals in mid-May. In the Urals, there are spawning grounds both in the lower reaches and in the middle reaches. Spring run fish spawn in the same year they enter the river, usually in early summer; autumn run fish winter in the river in pits and breed only in the spring of next year. Spawning occurs in deep places (from 4 to 12-15 m) with a fast current (optimum temperatures are 9-17 ° C), on rocky ridges and pebble placers. There is also developing caviar on the plant substrate (rhizomes of willow and poplar, overgrowth of perennial vegetation flooded by hollow waters). Fertilized eggs are glued to the substrate after 5-6 minutes. Fecundity, depending on the size of the females, ranges from 200 thousand to 8 million eggs. Eggs are large; in the Volga beluga, their diameter varies from 3.6 to 4,3 mm and weight from 26 to 36 mg. A regular increase in fertility is observed as the size and weight of females increase. Apparently, males come to re-spawn after 3-4 years, females - after 4-6 years.
The duration of embryonic development of the beluga is directly dependent on the temperature of the environment. At 8-11 ° C, embryo development lasts up to 200-240 h, and at 15-16 ° C, the larvae hatch after 130-140 h.
Article on the topic of Sevruga (Acipenser stellatus)
After spawning, adults, as well as fry hatched from eggs, roll into the sea. The hatched larvae and grown downstream fry adhere to the stem, flowing areas. The Azov beluga ripened the most. All beluga juveniles slide into the sea until September and do not remain in the river for wintering. From the moment the juveniles enter the freshened areas of the sea, they begin to settle along the shallow shores and gradually go into deeper saline areas.
According to recent data, individual males of beluga begin their first spawning migration at the age of 9-11, and females - at 12-14 years. Most of the males mature at 12-15 years of age, and females at 15-20.
Beluga is the most valuable commercial fish. Caviar is especially prized. In connection with hydro-construction and pollution of water bodies, its catches, like that of other sturgeon, have significantly decreased. The stocks of this fish are currently maintained almost exclusively through artificial breeding in hatcheries. They are caught with seines.
Meat, caviar, entrails, skin, heads are used. The fat content in the body of the beluga is 7%, in the caviar - 15%, in the viscera - 3.9%. It is prepared chilled, ice cream and dried. Canned food and smoked balyk products, culinary products (boiled, jellied fish in jelly) are produced. Grainy and pressed caviar is being prepared. A valuable food product is prepared from the chord - vyzigu. From the dried swim bladders, a glue is prepared, which is used to clarify wines.
The Azov subspecies is included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation, the beluga is included in the IUCN-2000 Red List, Appendix 2 of CITES.
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