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Coregonus albula

Photo: Vendace
Weights and measures
Length 30 cm
Weight 0,3 kg
Biological data
Lifespan from 5 to 7 years
State of endangerment
Animal description
The Vendace, scientifically known as Coregonus albula, is a captivating species of freshwater whitefish belonging to the salmon family Salmonidae. This slender, streamlined fish is native to the cold, clear, oligotrophic lakes of Northern Europe and parts of the British Isles. Characterized by its silvery appearance, the Vendace has a delicate structure with a small head, a pointed snout, and a mouth that is slightly underturned, enabling it to efficiently feed on plankton and small invertebrates.

Typically, the Vendace measures between 15 to 20 centimeters in length, although it can reach up to 35 centimeters in some instances. Its body is covered in small, shimmering scales that reflect light, creating a beautiful silver glow that camouflages it in its aquatic environment. The fish's back is adorned with a subtle green or blue hue, which gradually fades into the silver of its sides and belly, providing an effective counter-shading against predators.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Vendace is its adaptability to cold water environments. This fish thrives in temperatures ranging from 2 to 10 degrees Celsius, making it a true cold-water species. Its preferred habitats are deep, clear lakes with well-oxygenated water, where it can often be found schooling in the pelagic zone, away from the shore.

The reproductive habits of the Vendace are closely tied to its environment. Spawning typically occurs in late autumn or early winter, when water temperatures drop to around 4 degrees Celsius. Unlike many other fish species, the Vendace does not construct nests but instead scatters its eggs over sandy or gravelly lake bottoms. These eggs are slightly adhesive, sticking to the substrate until they hatch in late winter or early spring.

The diet of the Vendace primarily consists of zooplankton, but it can also include small aquatic insects and their larvae. This diet reflects the fish's role in the aquatic food web as a key prey species for larger predators, including other fish species and birds.

Unfortunately, the Vendace is considered vulnerable in several of its native regions due to factors such as habitat degradation, pollution, and the introduction of non-native species. Conservation efforts are underway in some areas to protect and restore its natural habitats, ensuring the survival of this unique and important species.

The Vendace is not only significant ecologically but also culturally and economically, especially in regions where it is considered a delicacy. Its delicate flesh is highly prized, leading to its inclusion in various traditional dishes. However, sustainable fishing practices are crucial to prevent overexploitation and ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy this remarkable fish.

In conclusion, the Vendace (Coregonus albula) is a fascinating species whose presence indicates the health of freshwater ecosystems. Its unique adaptations to cold water, ecological role, and cultural significance make it a fish of interest not only to biologists and conservationists but also to culinary enthusiasts and those who appreciate the natural beauty of our world's freshwater habitats.
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