European anchovy is a small, low-body fish, no more than 20 cm long, usually smaller individuals 12-15 cm long are found. On a small pointed head there is a huge mouth, the upper jaws of which extend far back, reaching the bones of the gill cover. The lower jaw is long and narrow. Small teeth are located on the jaws and other bones of the oral cavity, as well as on the tongue. The caudal fin is forks.
The hamsa's back is painted in bright green, blue-green, almost black or lighter - grayish. The sides are silver-white, sometimes a longitudinal strip stretches along the side, cast with a metallic sheen.
European anchovy inhabits the waters of the East Atlantic from the North Sea and the British Isles to the Mediterranean, Black and Azov Seas. It is found in large numbers in the Black and Azov Seas.
Hamsa is a schooling fish in the coastal areas of the sea, easily tolerating strong fluctuations in salinity (from 5 to 41 ppm) and temperature. Depending on the habitat, several forms of hamsa are distinguished, differing in color, growth rate and size.
The Black Sea anchovy, or hamsa, constantly lives in the Black Sea. In summer, its flocks are widely dispersed throughout the sea and adhere to the upper layers of water located above the temperature jump layer. Hamsa is especially abundant at this time on the northwestern shores, which are well warmed up and rich in fodder plankton. In winter, when the surface layers of water are much cooled and storms intensify, hamsa sinks to depths of 70–80 meters, concentrating in coastal areas. In our waters, its wintering area is located on a stretch of sea from Tuapse to Novorossiysk. In winter, hamsa leads a sedentary lifestyle, hardly eats, and rises to the surface only on warm, quiet days.
In the spring, at the end of March - the beginning of April, shoals of hamsa rise from the depths and begin to actively eat. The main food is small planktonic crustaceans. Soon the fish leave the wintering places further into the sea and disperse throughout the area, without forming large spawning clusters. Spawning lasts throughout the entire warm season (from May to September). During this time, the females sweep about 20-25 thousand small (1.1-1.3 mm) eggs in two or three portions. Eggs of anchovy fish have a peculiar ellipsoid or even drop-shaped shape. The spherical shape of eggs, which is usual for all fish, is preserved only in species of the family that constantly breed in highly desalinated water. The buoyancy of hamsa eggs is ensured by small fat droplets, while, for example, in the Caspian-Black Sea herring, a decrease in the specific gravity of eggs is achieved due to its hydration. Embryo development lasts less than three days. In stormy weather, a large amount of spawned caviar dies. Transparent larvae emerging from eggs grow very quickly and reach a length of 2.5-8 centimeters by September. Rapid growth lasts the first two years of life, and then the growth rate slows down and the limiting body length of the Black Sea hamsa rarely reaches 15 centimeters. This fish lives only 3-4 years, often reaching puberty in the first year of life.
Azov hamsa differs from the Black Sea in smaller size and lighter color. In the Sea of Azov, it actively eats and breeds in the summer, and in the fall, through the Kerch Strait, goes to the Black Sea and winter in the Novorossiysk region or somewhat to the south. During migrations, hamsa moves in huge schools, accompanied by dolphins and a mass of gulls and petrels whirling above the water. Sometimes large schools of fish rush into small bays and bays, which in the past, when the hamsa industry was poorly developed, led to sad consequences. In 1859, such a massive influx of hamsa into the Balaklava Bay turned into a real disaster: due to the onslaught of fish following the hamsa, the hamsa that had already entered the bay could not turn back. The bay was so overflowed with fish that no water was visible. Fish jumped ashore and even sea crayfish crawled out of the water. From the rotting of the dead fish, such a stench spread that paintings and silver blackened in the houses. People raked fish from the shallow waters of the bay, buried it in the ground, fertilized the fields with it, but still could not cope with the process of decomposition that had begun. An unbearable smell persisted in the vicinity of Balaklava during the year, and in the empty bay the next year, from the embankment in calm weather, whole heaps of dead fish were visible at the bottom. On a smaller scale, the sad story repeated in 1867.
In addition to European anchovy, in our waters in Peter the Great Bay, off the western coast of Sakhalin, in the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk and off the coast of Kamchatka, a close species is found - Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonicus). Floating eggs of this species do not contain fat droplets.
Despite their modest size, anchovies are the most important commercial fish and in terms of catch size firmly hold the first place in the world fishing statistics. The value of these fish is largely determined by their high fat content. One of the fattest anchovies - our Azov hamsa - contains 23–28% fat in its body in the autumn after feeding. Taste qualities of these fish, especially with special processing, are very high. Even in ancient times, anchovies were very appreciated not only in salt form, but also for the preparation of the so-called garum - sour and spicy sauces, which served as a favorite seasoning. Delicious fried anchovy sprinkled with lemon juice is a traditional dish in Spanish cuisine.
Anchovy is also used to make fishmeal, used to feed livestock and fertilize fields, as a bait for fishing for tuna.
The role of anchovies in the food chains of the sea is great. Eating small planktonic animals, they themselves serve as the main food of many predators - not only fish, but also birds, dolphins and cephalopods.
Step by step recipe
Hamsa, Hamsa. So this is Anchovy.
We will salt under Anchovy. without a head and viscera. If hamsa is frozen, then thaw it slowly in the refrigerator. Then carefully, gently wash, remove the head, entrails, rinse. Pepper, coriander rastolok medium grinding in a mortar. We put in the container, hamsa, salt, sugar, spices and add 100 ml. water for brine (so hamsa will not be dry after salting), mix for 24 hours in the refrigerator. In a day you can enjoy the most delicate product.
Black Sea hamsa (anchovy) - Engraulis encrasicolus ponticus Alexandrov.
According to the taxonomic position, the Black Sea hamsa is one of the subspecies (geographical races) of the European anchovy. In terms of production, it is the most important fishing object in the Black Sea. By its origin, hamsa belongs to the group of Mediterranean invaders and, accordingly, is a thermophilic species.
The hamsa body is elongated, slightly compressed laterally. The length of the fish is, on average, about 12 cm. (Fig. 1, Appendix 2.)
Hamsa breeding occurs almost throughout the Black Sea in waters with a salt content of 10-12 ‰ (Odessa Bay) to 17-18 ‰ (most of the sea). Spawning begins in mid-May at a temperature of 14-15 0С, reaches its maximum intensity in June-July at a temperature of 20-260С and ends by the end of August. Separate eggs are also found in September. Spawning occurs in the surface horizons of the sea. The individual fertility of females can exceed 50 thousand eggs. It reaches puberty in the second year of life, which ensures high reproductive ability of the species. During spawning, hamsa continues to eat intensively, constantly staying in the warmest surface layer of the sea. The basis of the hamsa food base consists of zooplankton organisms from the order Copepoda, Cladocera, larvae of Cirripedia, Decapoda, Mysidacea, as well as larvae of mollusks and worms. Hamsa juveniles are characterized by a fast growth rate - by November the average size of yearlings reaches 70-80 mm. Typically, the share of yearlings in the herd is 50-80%. Only in some years, characterized by low productivity of juveniles, larger biennial fish prevail in catches. Due to the high natural and commercial mortality, three to four-year-olds make up less than 5% of the entire population, and fish reaching a maximum age of 5 years are recorded only singly.
Hamsa is characterized by a decrease in the growth rate of both linear and weight growth with age (Table 2).
A high concentration of hamsa in wintering aggregations provides a good fodder base for kalkan, shark-katran, beluga, dolphins and seabirds, which are constantly found near hamsa shoals.
Table 2. The length and weight of the Black Sea hamsa depending on age (according to VN Yakovlev, II Serobaba and others 1995.)
In summer, the initial part of the hamsa population is distributed in shallow, high-food areas adjacent to the mouths of large rivers (Danube, Dniester, Dnieper) in the northwestern part and in the 5-mile coastal zone of Georgia, which is also subject to some desalination, which contributes to high productivity of plankton . In the cold season, hamsa, as a heat-loving species, reduces its distribution area, moving to the southern part of the sea. It has been established that the most important factors that determine the rate of transition of hamsa from the scattered distribution in the surface layer of the sea to wintering accumulations are the level of fat reserves in the body of the fish and the intense fall in water temperature. After the end of summer spawning from the end of August to October, hamsa eats intensively, which leads to a rapid accumulation of fat, which is the energy reserve for the existence of fish in the winter. The first signs of the beginning of the migration of the Black Sea hamsa to the south usually appear in early September, when its catches increase for a short time by coastal fixed nets and the cases of trap shoals catching during the Black Sea sprat fishing are more frequent. Autumn migration of hamsa to the southern part of the Black Sea occurs mainly in a rather narrow coastal zone. (Scheme 1. Appendix 1.)
The traditional areas for the formation of the so-called wintering aggregations of the Black Sea hamsa are the coastal areas of Turkey from Sinop to Rize and the water area adjacent to the Georgian coast from Batumi to Sukhumi. It is in these sections of the sea, mainly at a distance of 1-3 miles from the coast, that khamsa is actively fished with purse seines.
Observations have shown that the timing of the formation of dense stocks suitable for fishing depends on the fat content in the hamsa body and the type of winter cooling of the surface horizons of the sea. In a formalized form, this dependence can be represented by the equation for large two-three-year-old fish:
limits y - from 14 to 16 0С, x - from 12 to 17% fat, and similarly for yearlings:
limits y - from 10.5 to 13.0 0С, x - less than 13% fat.
As a rule, large individuals of 2-3 years of age have a higher fat content, which most often form the first fishing clusters in late November - early December. Numerous juveniles of the Black Sea hamsa come ashore and form shoals at a later date - usually from mid-December to mid-January.
For the winter period of the hamsa life cycle, diurnal verticals are characteristic, which significantly affect the course of fishing. At the beginning of winter, when the upper 40-meter layer of water remains 2-40 warmer than the underlying waters, hamsa schools are distributed closer to the surface of the sea. However, in the daytime, the lowering of hamsa is observed at 20-30 m from the surface, which, apparently, reduces the possibility of eating fish by predators, including birds. In general, up to mid-January, hamsa remains well accessible for fishing with purse seines, which are capable of catching fish to a depth of 50-60 m. Subsequently, under the influence of intense winter storms and the cold western current, there is a cooling down to 8-90 and water mixing throughout the 100-150-meter thicker. These conditions contribute to the extension of daily vertical migrations. During the day, hamsa can fall to a depth of 120 m. Moreover, in especially cold winters, characterized by continuous storms, snowfalls and lowering water temperatures to 6.5-7.00С, hamsa ceases to rise in the surface horizons of the sea and lies in the bottom layer. In this case, fish mortality increases sharply.
Throughout Putin, the highest catches of seiners - up to 30-60 tons per net, occur in the evening and morning hours, when the density of stocks at the sea surface is 200-400 ind./m3. In the middle of the night, the concentration density decreases to 20-60 ind./m3, which makes substitutions less effective. Daily concentrations, although they have the highest density - up to 500-800 ind./m3, are rarely caught due to their deep occurrence. The collapse of the schools and the reverse spring migration occurs in late March - April.
When analyzing the long-term dynamics of the Black Sea hamsa abundance, it should be taken into account that since the beginning of the 70s, when the number of large pelagic predators - mackerel, pelamids, large horse mackerel, etc. (sharply decreased due to the beginning of environmental degradation) sharply decreased, stocks small short-cycle fish practically remained only under the influence of fishing.
Accordingly, until the end of the 80s, while there was an increase in the number of vessels being mined (primarily Turkey), the stocks of Black Sea hamsa were relatively stable, and catches gradually increased (Table 3). During this period, fishing exemption was close to optimal, accounting for about 45-50% of the fishing stock. Together with the natural decline, which mainly took place in the winter period, the total annual mortality, on average, was about 86% of the maximum fall stock level.
The power (yield) of hamsa generations, which determined the level of commercial stock, depended mainly on the size of the parent herd. Moreover. With an excessive increase in the number of spawning fish of two to three years of age, productivity dropped sharply, which, apparently, was provided by intrapopulation regulatory mechanisms (competition for food, cannibalism, etc.). However, in 1984 the annual catch of Black Sea hamsa by the main fishing countries of the USSR and Turkey exceeded 500 thousand tons, which corresponded to the seizure of more than 60% of the total stock. Subsequently, there was a decline, both in the number of hamsa and in commercial conditions. Only in 1987, when the next high-ranking generation appeared (Table 3), the condition of the resources of the Black Sea hamsa improved. But again sharply increased in 1988. the “press” of the fishery led to another decrease in the number of herds. (2)
Table 3. The status of stocks and fishing of the Black Sea hamsa (according to V.N. Yakovlev, I.I. Serobaba and others 1995.)