- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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Scottish herring fisheries in 1924, a good year,
yielded 470,000 tons. Compared with these figures,
the amount of fish caught near the mouth of the
Volga alone is seen quite to hold its own ; all this
fish finds its food and lives and grows in the northern
most, shallow part of the Caspian, especially near
to and in the Volga delta; while it is only a small
part of the migrating swarms that finds its food in
the Volga itself. There is, indeed, a highly remark
able production of various kinds of fish in a rela
tively small area, and this suggests that there must
be a lavish and unparalleled supply of plankton
and fish-food in this part of the sea. This, perhaps,
may be best explained by assuming that the
Volga’s golden-brown flood, that is ever pouring
out into this sea, holds in it rich supplies above
the ordinary of feeding-matter, especially, perhaps,
nitrogen compounds (nitrates, nitrites, etc.) favour
ing the growth of plant-plankton, and thereby of
animal-plankton and fish-food as well. The Volga
in all its length of 3,694 kilometres flows through a
vast expanse of flat and fertile land, overlaid to a
great extent by the "black earth" so extraordinarily
rich in humus; and the river receives tributaries
from a huge area covering 1,459,000 square kilo
metres. Owing to the great rise in this mighty
stream (up to 15 metres or more) every spring and
early summer, it overflows the low fertile land for
a great distance, and its waters carry with them
great quantities of nitrogenous feeding-products
from the highly cultivated land-surfaces. But in the
flowing waters there is not the time nor the condi

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