Burbot the only winter spawner in Estonian freshwaters

Photos Tiit Hunt and Arne Ader
Translation Liis
Burbot       Luts      Lota lota
Another strange winter. The spawning of burbots does not benefit from this climate; until the turn of the year water temperature in our waters has been higher than usual. During the January cold wave the spawning of burbots started under the ice cover in rivers. In lakes it will be a little later. The mating period of burbots in Lake Peipus lasts up to 7 weeks. Spawning areas are on gravel and sand bottoms where the water moves, but the water depth may be quite varying.
Burbots are related to cods; they left the sea to live in fresh waters. Habitats are oxygen-rich water bodies with clean and cold water. In Estonia burbots  live in about a hundred lakes and rivers, but also in sea bays with brackish water.
The turbot’s body is long and supple, covered with slippery slime; the small scales are located in the skin.  It has a broad and flat head and quite large eyes; on the lower jaw it has a short barbel characteristic of the gadiform fishes. At a first glance half of the body is made up by the tail: the first dorsal fin is short, the second long, reaching to the tail fin, as does the anal fin. The back colour ranges from yellow to dark brown, sides are patterned, the belly white.
Burbots become sexually mature at three to five years old, having grown to a length of 30 to 50 centimetres. The roe is laid on the bottom of the water body, on sand or gravel, where it stays suspended in the water. The fry will hatch at about the same time as the ice cover on lakes thaws.
A mink has caught a burbot  




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