Swedish version


Reference to the artice:

At the foot of the Rainbow
By Jurij Shumakov

I got interested in the history of the discovery of the Mykizha (Rainbow trout) and Semga (Steelhead), while reading a book “Shrimp and Spey flies for Salmon and Steelhead” a couple of years ago. The information provided was sketchy, and I felt parts of the story had been left untold. The author had, let's say, simplified a bit the question of natural habitat of the fish and its name history, which are both quite interesting. In order to solve this "enigma", I tried to find more info, so after rather long and complicated research on this subject (but I will spare you the details!) this is what found:

Mykizha was described for the first time in history by Russian explorer Stepan Krasheninnikov on the Kamchatka Peninsula in 1755. Kamchatka's native inhabitants called this fish "Mykiz" or "Kymiz".

The scientific name of the fish, Salmo mykiss, was first proposed by Russian scientist Walboum in 1792. This was based on the results of the Great Northern Expedition of Russian ships under the command of Danish Vitaus Bering, who served the Russian crown at that time.

On the American continent, Lewis and Clarke described a species of fish which was new for them, and which they called “Rainbow trout”.

In 1814, the sea-run form of Mykizha was described for the first time on the Kamchatka Peninsula and called “Semga”. Since scientists at that time thought that it was a new species, it was given the Latin name Salmo penshinensis. In 1836, the Americans described the sea-run form of Rainbow, which got the name “Steelhead”.

In 1855, Steelhead was named according to the scientific rules of the period and got the Latin name Salmo irideus.

Until the middle of the XX century, all four names circulated in scientific and fishing literature. By that time, a lot of biological facts had been collected on both coasts of the Pacific, and it was high time to revise the old conceptions.

In 1966, almost simultaneously, Russian and American scientists came to the conclusion that Mykizha and Semga in the Russian Far East, as well as Rainbow trout and Steelhead on the North American continent are actually the same species. Since scientists independently came to the same conclusion, and according to taxonomic demands any species must get its first name, the fish was then named in Latin Salmo mykiss.

So in this case the names Mykizha, Rainbow trout, Semga and Steelhead are all synonymous to the scientific name of the species, Salmo mykiss.

But the story with the names of this fish wasn't over. Just as we thought things were getting easier, they started to get more complicated.

In 1989, American scientists decided that Salmo mykiss, as well as Clark's Salmon, Mexican Golden trout and Appaches trout are all closer by biological marks to the family of Pacific salmon named Oncohynchus. While Russian scientists, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the mentioned species are quite specific but closer to the Salmo family, and therefore proposed to set the whole group as a separate race Parasalmo.

So, to make a long story short, that's why the fish has received two quite different scientific names: in Russia it is known as Parasalmo mykiss, whereas in the US it is called Oncohynchus mykiss.

The area, which the fish inhabits, is quite big. In Asia Mikizha occupy an area on the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula from the Arctic Circle (about the line between the West coast river Palana and East coast river Ozernaja) to the Southern Horn of the Peninsula. A small natural population of the fish can be found off the Shantar islands.

On the North American continent the fish has a huge natural area reaching from about the Arctic river Kuskokvim, South of the biggest Alaskan river Ukon. The southern border of the Rainbow trout’s natural area is the brook Malibu, close to Los Angeles.

Special thanks to Russian specialist in Pacific Salmon species, docent of the Biological Dept. of the Moscow States University Kirill Kuzishin, Ph.D., who recently published the article about Kamchtka’s Mykizha and Semga in Russian fly fishing magazine “Nahlyst”. Parts of the article were used in the reference.

I am very thankful to Swedish-American linguist Helen Avery who helped me to bring whole article to a readable shape.

Read the article:
At the foot of the Rainbow
By Jurij Shumakov

Text and photos by Jurij Shumakov © 2005


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