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Fish of Kamchatka' rivers


CharsAmong other salmons, chars are distinguished by a very small scale – the fish seems to look bare-skinned. However, unlike other Pacific salmon species, it spawns several times during their life, though a part of the population dies after each spawning. Migrating chars hibernate in fresh water going out to the sea for feeding; landlocked ones live in rivers and lakes permanently. Some species are characterized by a great environmental flexibility forming various types of stocks: migrating and landlocked (freshwater), the latter being divided into river, lake-river, lake and dwarf brook forms.

Sea Run Char

Sea run chars are characterized with a great morphological and environmental variability, which resulted in appearance of multiple species and subspecies. The sea run char lives practically in all Kamchatka rivers; like pink salmon is one of the most numerous freshwater species. The most common form is the migrating one periodically moving seawards and back. Migrating sea run char is a big fish; some specimens occurring in Kamchatka waters are up to 75 cm. a usual catch is composed of specimens 30-50 cm long, weighing 1.5-2 kg.
Young fish lives in fresh water for a period of 2-9 years (usually 3 or 4), then they begin annual migrations to the sea and become grey-yellow or grey with dark crosswise stripes and reddish spots on the sides. Before they are drawn to the sea, the young fish lives rivers preferring fast flow, rifts and river sections with rocky bottom. Younglings of all ages migrate towards the sea in spring and early summer, usually accompanied by drifting ice and spring flood.
Run into rivers usually begins in July. Big specimens preparing for spawning this season are the first to enter the fresh water. Sea run char’s spawning places are located upstream while those of other salmons – near river estuaries.  Spawning takes place in autumn. Sea run chars develop mating dress during the period of Во время созревания икры и молок у гольца развивается брачный наряд. Males demonstrate especially bright colors: back and sides are green with red spots, the pelvic is crimson; the head is black with a yellow stripe under the jaws; paired fins are tricolor – red-black-white. Moreover, males develop a hump and a hook on the lower jaw. The body of females remains nearly the same; the color range is less aggressive and includes black, green and brown tones.
Sea run char running for spawning differs so enormously from other silver fish coming from the sea, that it makes many people think it is a separate species. Spawning takes place not every year, non-reproducing specimens accompanied by younglings run into the river later than the main spawning stock. A part of young migrating fish becomes pubescent when they reach the length of 12-15 cm, without migrating to the sea (dwarf males). They can be distinguished from the other young fish by darker color and well developed genital products. Some dwarf males may migrate to the sea after 9 years of freshwater life turning into the migratory form.
Kamchatka is the habitat of landlocked forms – lake and river-based ones. A landlocked dwarf char is met in the streams never inhibited by migrating fish; their males and females become pubescent when they reach the length of 11 -14 cm and weight of 20-40 g. Lake forms live in the lakes Dalneye and Kronotskoye. During all its lifetime, lake char stays in the lake and never enters any river. The spawning period is in September-March, the fish become pubescence at the age of 6 years.