Fish and other aquatic creatures

Black Sea Hamsa - a small fish


Hamsa or Kamsa, or Gavros, a small fish that looks similar to sprat, lives in the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to the Bay of Biscay, the Black, Azov and Mediterranean Seas, is found in the Baltic and North Sea, Indian Ocean in the Somalia region.

It is characterized by an elongated body with a length of 10-17 cm and a weight of 15-30 g, color from silver-black to blue-green, large mouth, well-developed fins. Khamsa meat is pink, with a more delicate taste than sprat.

Hamsa varies according to habitat:

  1. Atlantic Hamsa reaches weight up to 50 g and size up to 20 cm.
  2. Hamsa Mediterranean in length reaches 12-15 cm.
  3. Hamsa Black Sea is the most numerous fish of the Black Sea, grows up to 10-11 cm in length.
  4. Hamsa Azov has a lighter color and small size - 8-10 cm in length.

Hamsa is a valuable fish product containing:

  • high-grade proteins and essential amino acids

Interesting! 200 g of Hamsa is able to satisfy the daily need of the human body for essential amino acids: tryptophan, lysine, taurine, methionine.

Interesting! Hamsa refers to fatty fish.

Curious! The fatter the fish, the less it contains water. Lean fish species contain up to 80% water.

Important! Vitamin F is responsible for the health of the skin, prevents the development of atherosclerosis, thrombosis, hypertension.

  • trace elements: calcium, phosphorus, iodine, chlorine, sulfur, zinc, sodium, magnesium, chromium, fluorine, molybdenum, nickel, iron.

Beneficial features

  1. The use of Hamsa is recommended for people of any age, since its useful substances have a strengthening effect on bones and teeth, prevents the development of atherosclerosis.
  2. Hamsa dishes can increase male potency, prevent the formation of blood clots, angina attacks and the development of malignant tumors.
  3. When kidney disease and failure of the thyroid gland is also recommended to use dishes from the Hamsa.
  4. Due to the low content of calories in Hamsa, it is steamed, baked in the oven or boiled recommended for diet food for weight loss.
  5. The nutritional properties of Hamsa are not inferior to beef, and its proteins are better absorbed.

Interesting! The only contraindication to the use of Hamsa is individual intolerance to fish products.

What to cook

Hamsa, despite its small size and universal availability, is a fish delicacy.
It is used entirely, together with the bones, for cooking:

  • Baked Khamsa with vegetables and potatoes
  • stewed hamsa with tomatoes and onions,
  • chops or hamsa chops,
  • fried hamsa,
  • telno - an old Russian dish, such as fish zraz,
  • Hamsa in batter or deep-fried,
  • pickled hamsa,
  • stuffed hamsa,
  • salad and various salads with Hamsa,
  • borscht and fish soups,
  • casseroles and fish fondue,
  • fish paste, pasta or stew,
  • scales, fish pilaf and sauces.

It is also steamed, salted, dried, or dried. Dried Hamsa is also crushed into fine powder and used as a seasoning for fish dishes.

Hamsa recipes are presented in Turkish, Bulgarian, Greek, Sicilian, French, Portuguese and Spanish cuisines.

The Greeks cook it, wrapped in grape leaves, the Sicilians make pizza with hamsa, and the French - hamsa a la indorate, Bulgarians fry and use as a snack for beer.

Worth trying! Usually salted hamsa is combined with highly chilled vodka, and lovers of fine gastronomic tastes should try it with a cup of black coffee.


Especially in large quantities anchovy is found in the summer period: the water is well heated and there are no problems with food (plankton abundance). You can meet the Black Sea hamsa off the entire Black Sea coast. In the summer, the fish spreads over the entire sea surface, and in the winter, it prefers to live a fixed life, concentrating closer to the shore. Storm phenomena and cold water affect the behavior and activity of members of the anchovy family.

In the spring, in the end of March - the beginning of April, the hamsa begins its ascent from the depths of the sea and carries out an energetic nourishing process. And again, the fish from the coast begins its movement across the sea.

Biological Behavior Information

Hamsa opens the breeding season in the warm season, starting in May and ending in September. The abundance of caviar is observed in places of mass habitat of plankton, about 24 eggs per spawning. The life cycle of this type of anchovy is rather short - from 3 to 4 years. Intensive growth is observed in the first years of existence, then the speed slows down and the fish gains another 2-3 cm in length, being about 15 cm at the end of its development.

Interesting fact. This small fish is so popular on the Black Sea coast, that in 2017, the Hams Monument was erected on the embankment of Novorossiysk.

Catching hamsa

The Black Sea anchovy is a very important commercial fish species and a macro-object of the Black Sea fisheries. Dietary preferences of this fish are due to fat content and taste (about 20% of fat in the fall).

In connection with the deterioration of the ecological situation, with the breeding of such fish as the ctenophore (a competitor in nutrition with plankton, also destroys the eggs and young animals, regularly eating them), the hamsa’s catches and reproduction have now decreased.

Tasty tips

Recipe number 1 - Pickling Hamsa

Hamsa salting since ancient times was the most common method of its preparation.

  • prepare a saturated saline solution (when the dissolution of salt is no longer possible),
  • add acetic acid (for the amateur, to taste, but better - as little as possible),
  • then put the spices: black pepper, cardamom (allspice and cloves - optional),
  • bring everything to a boil and pour into a bowl for salting,
  • add to the total mass of chopped onion, garlic, you can red pepper (if you want to spice it up),
  • Now we drop the fish itself into the marinade and set it in the cold for half a day.
Hamsa is salty

Recipe number 2 - fried Hamsa

Fried hamsa - just yummy fingers! Pre-thaw the fish, salt and roll in a mixture of flour and black pepper, fry in vegetable oil (preferably, olive). It is not necessary to clean and gut anchovy before frying. Alternatively, you can deep-fry. Great for a beer!

Monument Hamsa in Novorossiysk.

The catches of the USSR main commercial fish of the Black Sea (1975 - 1990), thous. t.

Since 1974, more than 95% of the catch has been in the Hamsa, the Black Sea sprat, the whiting and the mackerel. According to the FAO, the total catch of listed fish in 1971-1984. had a tendency to increase, due to the expansion of the scale of their fishing.

Black Sea Flounder Kalkan

Various researchers estimated fish stocks and production in the Black Sea at 0.5–5.7 million tons and 0.25–2.9 million tons, respectively. Such a large scale is associated with both the methodical approach and large interannual fluctuations. the number of commercial fish in the reservoir. In addition, currently a significant "regulator" of the number of commercial fish are anthropogenic factors that affect not only the abiotic, but also the biotic part of the Black Sea ecosystem.

The results of scientific research over the past ten years allow us to talk about the initial stock of pelagic fish (anchovy, horse mackerel, sprat) at the level of 2-3 million tons, demersal fish (merlang, katran, kalkan, etc.) - 0.3-0.7 million t This estimate did not include information on Mediterranean migrants (bluefish, mackerel, pelamid), since their migration to the zone of the former USSR was practically not observed in the past 20 years.


The commercial importance of the Black Sea is determined not only by fish resources, but also by the substantial reserves of invertebrates (mussels) and algae (phyllophor, cstozier, zostera), the size of which populations and associations undergo significant changes under the influence of various types of economic activity.

In addition to fish, invertebrates and algae, mammals live in the Black Sea. So, here there are three types of dolphins (white-sided, bottle-nosed dolphin and azovka), which have long been hunted by all Black Sea countries. The number of dolphins was previously large, and total production exceeded 10 thousand tons per year, which led to a sharp decline in their reserves. Since 1966, fishing for dolphins is prohibited.

The general regime of fisheries in the Black Sea is determined by the principles of the rational use of fish resources in accordance with the state of stocks of exploited facilities. However, due to the lack of concerted actions in industrial exploitation and biological resources, there are problems of international regulation of fisheries.

Black Sea Hamsa (anchovy) - Engraulis encrasicolus ponticus Alexandrov

Black Sea Hamsa

By taxonomic position, the Black Sea hamsa is one of the subspecies (geographic races) of the European anchovy. In terms of production, it is the most important fishing object in the Black Sea. By its origin, the Hamsa belongs to the group of Mediterranean invaders and, accordingly, a thermophilic species.

The body of the Khamsa is elongated, slightly compressed from the sides. The length of the fish is, on average, about 12 cm.

Hamsa breeding occurs almost throughout the entire Black Sea area in waters with salt content from 10–12 ‰ (Gulf of Odessa) to 17–18 (most of the sea area). Spawning begins in mid-May at a temperature of 14-15 ° C, reaches its maximum intensity in June-July at a temperature of 20-260 ° C and ends by the end of August. Separate eggs are found in September. Spawning occurs in the surface horizons of the sea. The fecundity of females may exceed 50 thousand eggs. It reaches sexual maturity in the second year of life, which ensures a high reproductive ability of the species. During the spawning period, the hamsa continues to feed intensively, constantly being in the most warmed surface layer of the sea. The base of the Khamsa food base is made up of zooplankton organisms from the order Copepoda, Cladocera, Cirripedia larvae, Decapoda, Mysidacea, and also the larvae of mollusks and worms. Hamsa juveniles have a fast growth rate - by November the average size of fingerlings reaches 70-80 mm. Usually, the proportion of yearlings in the commercial herd is 50-80%. Only in some years, characterized by low yields of juveniles, larger two-year-old fish predominate in catches. Due to the high natural and commercial mortality, three to four-year-olds make up less than 5% of the entire population, and fish that reach their maximum age of 5 years are recorded only individually.

Hamsa is characterized by a decrease in both linear and weight growth rates with age.

The high concentration of hamsa in wintering clusters provides a good food base for kalkan, sturgeon, quark shark, dolphins and seabirds, which are constantly found near shoals of hamsa.

The length and weight of the Black Sea Khamsa, depending on age

In the summer, a significant part of the Hamsa population is distributed in the shallow, high-feeding areas adjacent to the mouths of large rivers (Danube, Dniester, Dnieper) in the northwestern part and in the 5-mile coastal zones of Abkhazia and Georgia, which are also subject to a certain desalination, which contributes to high plankton productivity. In the cold season, the hamsa, as a heat-loving species, reduces its distribution area, moving to the Caucasian coast of the Black Sea. It has been established that the most important factors that determine the rate of transition of the Hamsa from the scattered distribution in the surface layer of the sea to wintering concentrations are the level of fat reserves in the body of the fish and the intensive autumn fall in water temperature. After completion of summer spawning from late August to October, the hamsa is intensively fed, which leads to a rapid accumulation of fat, which is the energy reserve for the existence of fish in the winter.

The first signs of the onset of migration of the Black Sea hamsa to the south usually manifest themselves in early September, when its catches by coastal net seines increase briefly and the number of shoals caught by trawls in the Black Sea sprat industry increases. The autumn movement of the Khamsa in the southern part of the Black Sea occurs mainly in a rather narrow coastal zone.

Purse net fishing

Traditional areas of formation of the so-called wintering clusters of the Black Sea Hamsa are coastal areas of Turkey from Sinop to Rize and the waters adjacent to the Georgian and Abkhaz coasts from Batumi to Sukhumi. It is in these areas of the sea, mainly at a distance of 1-3 miles from the coast, that the Khamsa purse seines are actively fished.

Observations have shown that the timing of the formation of dense, suitable for fishing shoals depend on the fat content in the body Hamsa and cooling the surface of the water basin in the fishing zone.

As a rule, large individuals of 2–3 years of age have a higher fat content, which most often form the first commercial aggregations in late November – early December. Numerous youngsters of the Black Sea Hamsa approach the shore and form shoals at a later date - usually from mid-December to mid-January.

For the winter period of the life of the Hamsa, daily verticals are characteristic, which significantly affect the course of fishing. At the beginning of winter, when the upper 40-meter layer of water stays 2-40 warmer than the underlying water, the schools of Hamsa are distributed closer to the sea surface. However, in the daytime, the hamsa is lowered 20-30 m from the surface, which, apparently, reduces the possibility of fish eating away by aquatic predators, including birds. In general, right up to mid-January, the hamsa remains well accessible for fishing with purse seines, which are capable of catching fish to a depth of 50-60 m. Subsequently, under the influence of intense winter storms and the cold western current, cooling occurs to 8-90 all over 100-150 meters thicker. These conditions contribute to an increase in the length of diurnal vertical migrations. During the day, the hamsa can descend to a depth of up to 120 m. Moreover, in especially cold winters, characterized by continuous storms, snowfalls and a decrease in water temperature to 6.5-7.00 С, the hamsa stops rising in the surface horizons of the sea and lies in the bottom layer. In this case, the mortality of fish increases dramatically.

Throughout the whole of the way, the highest catches of seiners - up to 30-60 tons of seine netting occur in the evening and morning hours, when the density of the shoals near the sea surface is 200-400 spec./m3. In the middle of the night, the density of concentrations decreases to 20-60 ind./m3, which makes replacement less effective. The daytime concentrations, although they are distinguished by the highest density - up to 500-800 ind./m3, are rarely harvested due to their deep occurrence. The collapse of stocks and reverse spring migration occurs in late March - April.

When analyzing the long-term dynamics of the Black Sea Hamsa population, it should be taken into account that since the beginning of the 70s, when the number of large pelagic predators — mackerel, pelamids, large scad, etc. (apparently due to the deterioration of the ecological situation) sharply decreased — stocks small short-cycle fish almost remained only under the influence of fishing.

Accordingly, until the end of the 80s, while there was an increase in the number of producing vessels (primarily Turkey), the stocks of the Black Sea hamsa were relatively stable, and the catches gradually increased. During this period, the harvest withdrawal was close to optimal, accounting for about 45-50% of the commercial stock. Together with the natural decline, which mainly occurred in the winter period, the total annual mortality rate, on average, was about 86% of the maximum autumn level of the stock.

The power (productivity) of the Hamsa generations, which determined the level of commercial stock, depended mainly on the size of the parent flock. And. With an excessive increase in the number of spawning fish of two or three years of age, the yield dropped sharply, which, apparently, was provided by intrapopulation regulatory mechanisms (competition for food, cannibalism, etc.). However, in 1984 the annual catch of the Black Sea Khamsa by the main fishing countries of the USSR and Turkey exceeded 500 thousand tons, which corresponded to the withdrawal of more than 60% of the entire stock. In the future, there was a decline, both in the number of hamsa, and in field conditions. Only in 1987, when the next high-generation generation appeared, the state of the Black Sea Hamsa resources improved. But again sharply increased in 1988. "Press" fishery entailed another decline in the number of herds.


Most often, hamsa is found in the Azov Sea, in smaller quantities in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Increasing the level of salt in the water does not affect the population of the species. In summer, the fish is kept on the surface, choosing a warm habitat. The places where the hamsa lives should contain a lot of food.
Alone fish does not walk, lives exclusively in flocks. In winter, the activity of the Hamsa decreases, it falls to a depth of 70-80 meters.

Hamsa moves in the water column with an open mouth. С помощью оттопыренных жабр она заглатывает корм, который в основном состоит из мелких рачков. Со стороны очень интересно наблюдать за стаей хамсы, которая одновременно открывает рот. Зоо- и био планктон составляют основу рациона хамсы. Интенсивность питания снижается с наступлением холодов.


Хамса размножается икрой.Половая зрелость достигается в возрасте одного года. В летний период в июне-июле начинается активное икрометание. После этого происходит выгул мальков. At one time, hamsa tosses up to 25 thousand eggs. This happens not simultaneously, but in four rounds. The fish rushes from midnight to four in the morning.
Throughout his life, no more than three spawns.
Hamsa is food for many Black Sea and Azov predators. In the summer, the fish is of the smallest size, it begins to eat off by late autumn, and in winter the hamsa is the most fat. And due to the low activity of the species during this period, it becomes good prey for mackerel, beluga, horse mackerel and tuna and other fish.

Fish application

A quarter of the total catch of the Azov and Black Sea is hamsa. It is used to implement in canned form. Fish is salted, fried, stewed and smoked. Fishermen even sell hamsa in a dried form.
This type of fish is used as bait to catch larger fish. Fishermen emit a large amount of Hamsa at great depths and during the approach of the predator they throw nets.