Russia’s enormous landmass touches the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans and numerous seas. It also contains a multitude of freshwater lakes and rivers. Given this, it’s not surprising that the country boasts a wide variety of aquatic life. Read on to discover 7 spectacular fish found in Russia!
1. Black Scorpionfish
One of the most amazing – and dangerous – fish found in Russia is the black scorpionfish (Scorpaena porcus). This spiky marine fish dwells in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, which connects with Russia partly through the Black Sea. Its name derives from the venomous spines on its dorsal and anal fins. A demersal species, it lurks by itself among rocks and algae near the ocean floor.
The black scorpionfish grows to a maximum length of 15.94 inches, though a length of 5.9 inches is more common. It weighs as much as 1.9 pounds and is brownish in color.
2. Long-Snouted Seahorse
Unlike the black scorpionfish, the long-snouted seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) is beautiful to look at. This classic member of the seahorse family inhabits the Black Sea off Russia’s western coast, which flows from the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to its horse-like head, this species also features a tightly curled tail and spines on its body and around its eyes.
The long-snouted seahorse grows to a maximum length of 8.46 inches. Its color ranges from dark green to brown, accompanied by white spots on its body, which may be ringed and develop into wavy horizontal lines. There may also be mottling or the presence of pale “saddles.”
3. Smooth Hammerhead Shark
Undoubtedly, the smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) is one of the strangest-looking fish found in Russia. Its signature flat head (cephalofoil) extends to both sides, resembling a hammer. The appellation “smooth” derives from the lack of indentation in the middle of its cephalofoil. This fish is an aggressive predator in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with a diverse diet that occasionally includes other sharks.
As one of the largest hammerhead species in the world, the smooth hammerhead grows up to 16.4 feet in length and weighs as much as 882 pounds. Its dorsal region is olive-grey to dark grey with a white underbelly.
The swordfish (Xiphias gladius) is a highly migratory fish that occasionally appears along the coasts of Russia. This includes the western coast abutting the Black Sea from the Atlantic Ocean and its eastern coasts verging on the Pacific Ocean. The swordfish is aptly named with a rostrum shaped like a sword or foil. It uses this pointed rostrum to injure or kill its prey. The species is also incredibly fast, swimming at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour.
Swordfish grow up to 14.92 feet in length with a maximum weight of 1,433 pounds. The dorsal region of this massive fish is blackish-brown, which fades to a light brown underneath.
The Turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) is a large flatfish with a flat, nearly circular body. Both its eyes occur on one side of its body, one eye migrating to join the other during the fish’s development. It inhabits areas of the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, including the coasts of Russia abutting the Baltic Sea. A subspecies also occurs in the Black Sea. This odd-looking fish lurks on sandy or rocky ocean floors, disguising itself against the sediment.
The turbot grows to a maximum length of 3.28 feet and weighs up to 55 pounds. It makes an excellent dish prepared either fresh or from a frozen state.
6. Siberian Brook Lamprey
The Siberian brook lamprey (Lethenteron kessleri) is an eellike species that is not an eel but a jawless fish. This freshwater fish occurs in the lakes and lowland rivers of Siberian Russia. Its circular mouth opens wide to reveal sharp teeth. Though many lampreys are parasitic, latching onto their prey using their sucking mouths and rows of teeth, the Siberian brook lamprey is nonparasitic. It grows up to 10.24 inches long.
7. Indo-Pacific Sailfish
Lastly, the Indo-Pacific sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) is a truly spectacular fish inhabiting the Pacific and Indian Oceans, including areas along Russia’s eastern coast. This migratory fish bears a strikingly long, thin beak similar in appearance to the rostrum of the swordfish. Its name, however, derives from the sail-like dorsal fin along its back. It actually has two dorsal fins, though the second and rearmost are much smaller, only having six to seven rays compared to the first fin’s 42-49 rays.
The Indo-Pacific sailfish grows as long as 11.4 feet and weighs up to 220.9 pounds. Its dark dorsal region has approximately 20 blue vertical bars and a pale, silvery belly. Its sail-like dorsal fin is bluish-black with dark spots.
These fish only scratch the surface of the species found in Russia. To read more about Russia’s wildlife, check out this article.