Although Norway’s waters are teeming with cod, salmon, trout, and haddock, they also boast a few more exotic species. From sharks to lampreys to swordfish, these cold Atlantic waters hold many surprises. Read on to discover 8 spectacular fish found in Norway!
1. Basking Shark
One of the most fascinating fish found in Norway is the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus). Its gaping mouth and status as the world’s second-largest shark make it one of the ocean’s most visually intimidating predators. However, although these creatures are massive, they are generally passive and do not pose much danger to humans. They are filter feeders, swimming with their mouths wide open to filter plankton and other tiny organisms from the water using gill rakers.
The biggest basking shark on record was a male measuring an astonishing 49.87 feet in length; the biggest female was 32.15 feet long. The heaviest individuals weigh as much as 10,000 pounds, reaching over 4.5 metric tons.
2. Atlantic Wolffish
A fierce-looking marine fish found in Norway is the Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), which goes by several other names, including “seawolf” and “devilfish.” Its teeth are its main distinguishing feature. They protrude even when their mouth is closed, giving this fish a vicious, wolfish appearance. The front row of teeth contains four to six fanged conical teeth, the upper jaw boasts three rows of crushing teeth, and the lower jaw adds two sets of molars. Not only that, but these fish also have serrated teeth in their throats.
The Atlantic wolffish swims by undulating its long, eel-like body. Because it lacks rough scales, its body is slippery to the touch. Its dorsal fin extends the length of its back.
This species grows to a maximum length of 4.9 feet and weighs as much as 52 pounds. Its color ranges from greyish-green to reddish-brown or nearly black, with 10-15 black bars along its sides.
The swordfish (Xiphias gladius) is striking for the swordlike bill protruding from its head. It uses this “sword” as a weapon to injure or dispatch prey. Its prey includes other fish, crustaceans, and even squid. Although the species is highly migratory, it occasionally travels to Norway’s cold waters. It dives to depths of up to 9,440 feet, though it more commonly swims in waters above 1,800 feet. It is renowned for both its quick speed and its ability to jump.
Swordfish grow up to 14.92 feet in length with a maximum weight of 1,433 pounds. However, most individuals grow to around 9.84 feet in length. They are blackish-brown, fading to a light brown on the underbelly.
4. Common Monkfish
Also known as the angler, the common monkfish (Lophius piscatorius) is native to the Atlantic waters around Norway. This strange-looking specimen appears to be mostly a broad, flat head with a narrowing body trailing behind. It lies half-buried on the ocean floor with its fishing filament extended, waiting for prey to swim by and fall victim to its wide, gaping mouth.
The common monkfish is surprisingly large, growing to a length of up to 6.56 feet and a maximum weight of 127.2 pounds. It has no scales but rather thin, loose skin. Dorsal spines extend along its back. It lurks at depths of up to 3,280 feet.
5. Sea Lamprey
The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) is an eel-like jawless fish possessing a circular mouth lined with concentric rings of teeth. This parasitic species uses its mouth and teeth to suction onto its prey and feed on its blood, fluids, and flesh. It uses an anticoagulant to prevent the blood from clotting. Surprisingly, this method of feeding usually does not kill its host.
Sea lampreys grow as long as 3.94 feet, though they are more often about half that long. They are not heavy fish, weighing a maximum of 5.5 pounds. They are anadromous, inhabiting both marine and freshwater environments.
6. Arctic Lamprey
The Arctic lamprey (Lethenteron camtschaticum) is a species of jawless fish found in Norway similar in shape to the sea lamprey but smaller. It possesses the lamprey’s signature suctioned mouth with two sizable teeth on the supraoral bars and a row of posterior teeth. Many of these parasitic fish are anadromous, migrating from saltwater to freshwater, though there are populations of nonmigratory freshwater Arctic lampreys.
Arctic lampreys do not grow longer than two feet and weigh a maximum of 0.44 pounds. They range in color from brown to grey to olive with pale undersides.
7. Ninespine Stickleback
The ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius) is an anadromous fish inhabiting the waters of Norway. The Latin word pungitius means “one that pricks.” Its English name refers to the six to 12 dorsal spines lining its back. This benthopelagic fish swims at depths of up to 360 feet.
Despite its intimidating name, the ninespine stickleback is a relatively small fish, growing to a maximum length of only 3.54 inches. Its color ranges from olive to pale green to grey, with dark bars or blotches and a silvery underbelly.
8. European Eel
Last on our list is the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), an elongated fish with a slightly projecting lower jaw. Its tiny larvae look like transparent ribbons. These fish are catadromous, migrating down rivers to spawn in the sea. They are capable of swimming at depths of nearly 2,300 feet. Their fatty flesh is edible, though current fishing practices are not sustainable due to the species’ Critically Endangered status.
Females of this species grow larger than males, up to 4.36 feet in length. Their maximum recorded weight is 14.55 pounds.
Besides the amazing fish found in Norway, the country offers a host of other species. Check out this article to learn more about Norway’s wildlife in the water and on land.
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