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Longhead char (Salvelinus cronocius)

This is a large char with long and narrow body, large head, and wide predatory mouth with long jaws of equal length and powerful teeth. The long-headed char is endemic to the Lake Kronotskoye in Kamchatka and is not found anywhere else. The body length of this char can reach one meter, its weight is up to 4 kilograms.

The top of the head and the back are grayish-green, the sides and belly are silver-white. On the sides there are numerous, small (less than the diameter of the eye pupil) white or reddish spots and specks. By the males in mating colors, a large kype appears on the lower jaw; this kype is entering the recess at the end of the snout. The head is black, the back and sides of the body are gray-green, the belly is yellow. The spots and specks on the sides of the body are bright red. The cpawning colors of the females is not as bright.

This fish is living in the open parts of the Lake Kronotskoe far from the shores, and breeding in the tributaries. The spawning run begins in mid August. The spawning, like by many other chars, takes place in September and early October. The adult fish are specialized predators eating the resident sockeye (kokanee) – the lake is populated by numerous stocks of this small salmon.

The numbers are low – at the spawning grounds not more than several hundreds of the adult fish were observed. This rare char is protected by the Kronotski Nature Preserve, and listed in the Red Book of Kamchatka.

Ilya Sherbovich