- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
211

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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OVER THE CASPIAN TO ASTRAKHAN
211
Caspian Sea, especially in its northern part. 1
In its reproductive period it grows to be 12 to 36
centimetres long, and weighs 70 to 500 grammes,
according to its age. Early in spring, in April and
May, and as soon as the ice breaks up, it comes up
into the Volga delta in vast quantities to spawn.
It is the most important product of the fisheries,
and is mostly lightly salted, and then dried on
stages on huge drying-grounds. The yearly catch
is 600 to 1,000 million fish, weighing 82,000 to
150,000 tons. Vobla is cheap and easy to freight
when dried, and together with the herring it måkes
the most important food of the people in Russia.
The low flat islands and shoals in the del a were
a fresh green on both sides from the reeds. Clumps
of trees, and churches with small hamlets around
them, could be seen far away over the lowland,
which did not rise much above the surface of the
water. The land is cut in every direction by
branches of the river, and is swampy and full of
malaria. Farther north the land stood a little
higher above the river, especially on the west side,
though never many metres. The river seemed still
to be running fairly high, but becomes lower later
on in the summer. At Astrakhan it is generally
highest about the middle ofJune ; and then it sinks
steadily till the low-water period in September.
The villages gradually grew in size, and now lay
in some cases right on the slightly higher west bank
1 The information given here and below about the fishes is tåken
from Professor Arvid Behning’s excellent book, Das Leben der Wolga,
in A. Thienemann, Die Binnengewåsser, vol. v; Stuttgart, 1928.

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