Pelecus cultratus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU [A1b, c, d, e; B1b, c]; International: IUCN [DD], BeC-III.
General distribution. The basins of the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea. In the Baltic Sea basin from the Vistula River to the Neva River drainage systems, the southern parts of Sweden and Finland, the lakes Ladoga and Onega.
Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. In the past, it was recorded in the Danube River and adjacent marshes, as well as in its tributaries the Iskar River (near the village of Dolni Lukovit) and the Yantra River (near the village of Polsko Kosovo) [1, 2, 3, 4]. Later, the occurrence of the species was confirmed in the Danube (from Vidin to Silistra) [5, 6, 7, 8], the Iskar (rare and mainly in the mouth) [9, 10] and the Yantra (3 km upstream the mouth of the river) [10, 11]. At present, it is found in the Danube, where it has some of the lowest annual catches for the period 2002-2005, in comparison with other Danube fish species .
Habitats. It inhabits the lower reaches of large rivers, large lakes and estuaries.
Biology. A pelagic species, forming shoals. It reaches sexual maturity at the age of 2-4 years. Spawning takes place in running water, at water temperature of 12-14°C, in the period from April to May. The fecundity of the females ranges from 2 600 to 94 000 eggs . The juveniles feed on zooplankton but quickly shift their diet to insects (larvae or adults), and in the second year - to small fish. A fast swimmer, during feeding it often jumps over the water. It attains a maximum body length of 60 cm and a weight of 2 kg. The life span is 11 years. [8, 14].
Similar species. None.
Negative factors. The draining of the Danube marshes and water pollution.
Conservation measures taken. None.
Conservation measures needed. Restoration of the Danube wetlands and the backwaters along the lower reaches of the Danube tributaries. Protection of the Danube River against pollution.
References. 1. Kovatcheff, 1923; 2. Morov, 1931; 3. Chichkoff, 1939; 4. Drensky, 1951; 5. Marinov, 1966; 6. Sivkov, Manolov 1978; 7. Vassilev, 1994; 8. Karapetkova, Zivkov, 1995; 9. Paspalev, Peshev, 1955; 10. Karapetkova, 1994; 11. Karapetkova, 1972; 12. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 2002-2005; 13. Holcik, 1998; 14. Froese, Pauly, 2006.
Authors: Teodora Trichkova, Tihomir Stefanov