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Author: (Mitchill, I814)

Osmerus mordax (Mitchill, I814)

Diagnosis: body long and slim, head rather pointed. Snout pointed, upper jaw reaching to behind hind border of eye, lower jaw projecting a little; teeth in lower jaw larger than those in upper, strong teeth on tongue and canines on vomer. Gillrakers 25-35. Dorsal fin origin in front of pelvic fin bases. Scales relatively large, 65-72, with 13-30 pored scales (not reaching to level of dorsal fin). Vertebrae 60-68. Colour: back greenish, flanks with silvery stripe. Size: to 30 cm.

Habitat: anadromous, midwater. Food: small fishes, crustaceans and worms. Reproduction: shoaling at river mouths and migrating up to 1,000 km up rivers, at about time that river and lake ice breaks up, to spawn in May-June; eggs adhesive.

Distribution: coasts and drainage of White and Barents Seas. Elsewhere, eastward to Bathurst Inlet, Canada and south to Korea (Wonsan) and Vancouver I., also Atlantic coasts of Canada and United States.

Eggs, larvae and young stages. No data.
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.


0. mordax mordax: Atlantic coasts of Canada and United States; anadromous and permanently freshwater population.

0. mordax dentex Steindachner, 1870: coasts and drainage of White and Barents Seas eastward through Bering Straits to Korea and Vancouver I. Anadromous.
Eggs, larvae and young stages. Unanyan & Soin, 1963: 25, fig. 1-4.
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.

0. mordax spectrum Cope, 1870: dwarf lacustrine form in Atlantic drainage of Canada and United States; current work suggests this to be a distinct species (Larteigne and McAllister, in press).

Rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax)