Master of the Seas: Bluefish


Bluefish, a scaled migratory fish, roams in schools in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Indian Ocean, and Atlantic Ocean. In our country, those caught in the Black Sea and Istanbul Strait, as well as in the Marmara Sea, boast an exquisite taste. They are found in all warm and temperate seas worldwide. They are not open-water fish and generally inhabit bays and nearshore waters, preferring areas with sandy bottoms. They migrate towards warmer waters when the temperature drops.

After May, they migrate from the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea for feeding and spawning purposes, and this migration happens very quickly. This migration is so rapid that by the first week of June, the migration adventure is complete. During the migration, the fish caught are extremely lean and naturally have less flavor. During the migration, they lay eggs in some areas of the Marmara Sea and the Strait. Of course, they also lay eggs in many places in the Black Sea. They can lay between 60,000 to 80,000 eggs.

Spending the summer in the Black Sea, the fish begin to migrate back to the Marmara Sea, following the strait from mid-August onwards. This migration follows a certain order based on the size of the fish. Full-sized bluefish migrate first, followed by entry into the waters of Kofana Strait after mid-September. Lastly, the sea bass arrives.

They spread across all areas of the strait and Marmara Sea and begin to feed. During seasons when fish are abundant, it is possible to see fish being caught even in shallows just 3-5 meters from the shore.

Names based on sizes:

  • Up to 12 cm: Leaf or Laurel Leaf
  • 13-17 cm: Sea Bass
  • 18-20 cm: Yellowfin
  • 21-30 cm: Bluefish
  • 30-50 cm: Kofana

They are aggressive and predatory fish and can even eat smaller fish of their own kind. Each individual feeds by preying on fish of its own size. It is known to attack fish of larger sizes as well.

Bluefish is renowned for leaving many fishermen fingerless who attempted to remove it from the hook. It kills fish up to twice its weight in a day. That’s why it’s notorious among fishermen.

Ahmet Rasim from Heybeliada says, “The fishermen who scream ‘Oh, bluefish, oh’ and make the entire fish market tremble apparently do so because they emit fire. I can’t imagine any Istanbulite who wouldn’t turn around at the mention of bluefish. That cunning bluefish, knowing how sweet its meat is, makes a fuss while being caught, then its cunning tricks greatly irritate the hunter, making one want to eat it raw.”

In the book “Fish and Fishing in Turkey,” Karekin Deveciyan also can’t stop praising the bluefish… Karekin Efendi says the following about bluefish: “Bluefish is found in Izmir, the Gulf of Salonica, the coasts of Syria, and even the coasts of Alexandria, but the taste of those caught in Istanbul is incomparable to any of them.”

From all this, we can say that for Istanbulites, Bluefish is not just a fish. The arrival of the bluefish season is an important time that changes the routine of Istanbulites. Ahmet Hamdi continues to describe this time, “Towards the end of September, bluefish hunting provided a new excuse to taste the Bosphorus: Bluefish is perhaps the most enticing entertainment of the Bosphorus. This bright entertainment, clustered at the mouths of currents from Beylerbeyi and Kabataş to Telli Baba and Kavaklar along the two coasts, creates small commotions, especially on moonless nights.”

Losing bluefish doesn’t just mean losing the ability to catch it; it doesn’t just destroy our gluttonous impulse or eliminate a taste we possess. Losing bluefish means losing a part of the city’s soul. The fish we call sea bass or laurel leaf are actually young bluefish. And if we eat the young bluefish, if we turn a blind eye to their fishing, we will spare this fish from the generations to come. Do not eat bluefish under 24 cm. At least we can do this much for our city.

Quoted from Levon Bağış.

Posted in Genel

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