Dolly Varden Trout (Salvelinus malma malma) - Wiki
Dolly Varden trout
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[Photo] Dolly Varden trout, Salvelinus malma malma, adult female. Dolly varden rocks From : In: "The Fishes of Alaska." Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries, Vol. XXVI, 1906. P. 360, Plate XL.
The Dolly Varden trout, Salvelinus malma malma, is a subspecies of anadromous fish in the salmon family, and is technically a char. Although many of the fish are anadromous, the fish also exists in landlocked waterways in the northwest United States.
The back and sides are olive green or muddy gray, shading to white on the belly. The body has scattered pale yellow or pinkish-yellow spots. There are no black spots or wavy lines on the body or fins. Small red spots are present on the lower sides. These are frequently indistinct. The fins are plain and unmarked except for a few light spots on the base of the caudal fin rays.
Origin of the name
It appears that the first recorded use of the Dolly Varden name to refer to a species of fish, was to a different species which is similar in appearance (Salvelinus confluentus), now commonly known as the "Bull trout."
In his book, Inland Fishes of California, Peter Moyle recounts a letter sent to him on March 24, 1974 from Mrs. Valerie Masson Gomez: "My grandmother's family operated a summer resort at Upper Soda Springs on the Sacramento River just north of the present town of Dunsmuir, California. She lived there all her life and related to us in her later years her story about the naming of the Dolly Varden trout. She said that some fishermen were standing on the lawn at Upper Soda Springs looking at a catch of the large trout from the McCloud River that were called 'calico trout' because of their spotted, colorful markings. They were saying that the trout should have a better name. My grandmother, then a young girl of 15 or 16, had been reading Charles Dickens' Barnaby Rudge in which there appears a character named Dolly Varden; also the vogue in fashion for women at that time (middle 1870s) was called 'Dolly Varden,' a dress of sheer figured muslin worn over a bright-colored petticoat. My grandmother had just gotten a new dress in that style and the red-spotted trout reminded her of her printed dress. She suggested to the men looking down at the trout, 'Why not call them "Dolly Varden"?' They thought it a very appropriate name and the guests that summer returned to their homes (many in the San Francisco Bay area) calling the trout by this new name. David Starr Jordan, while at Stanford University, included an account of this naming of the Dolly Varden Trout in one of his books."
In 1874, Livingston Stone, a naturalist working for the U.S. government wrote: "Also called at (Upper) Soda Springs the 'Varden' trout. … The handsomest trout, and, on the whole, having the most perfect form of all the trout we saw on the McCloud. Also, the only fish that had colored spots. This one was profusely spotted over most of the body with redish golden spots. ... The local name at (Upper) Soda Springs is the Dolly Varden". Quoted from: VI. Report of Operations During 1872 at the United States Salmon-Hatching Establishment on the M’Cloud River, and on the California Salmonidae generally; with a list of Specimens Collected. By Livingstone Stone. In: United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries. Part II. Report of the Commissioner for 1872 and 1873. A- Inquiry into the Decrease of the Food Fishes. B- The Propagation of Food-Fishes in the Waters of the United States. With Supplementary Papers. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1874 at pp. 203 - 207.
It is currently unknown whether the name "Dolly Varden" was later applied to this subspecies (S. m. malma) because of the similar appearance of the two fish (the two may have been believed to be the same species), or whether the name "Dolly Varden" was given to S. m. malma independent of the McCloud River fish.
Ironically, it appears that the "original" Dolly Varden trout (i.e., S. confluentus) likely became locally extinct in the McCloud River in the 1970s (although reports continue of its being caught in the McCloud River). Other fish species (typically introduced trout) will out-compete the Dolly Varden/Bull trout, and will actually interbreed with the Dolly Varden/Bull trout, producing sterile hybrids. As a result, an attempt to re-introduce the Dolly Varden/Bull trout to the river where it received its name (the McCloud River) was unsuccessful, and no additional attempts are expected.
Present day range
The subspecies S. m. malma is found in coastal waters of the North Pacific from Puget Sound to the Alaska Peninsula, and along the Bering Sea and the Arctic Sea to the Mackenzie River. It is known as 'Belyi golets' in Russian.
The "Dolly Varden" name is also applied to a third subspecies S. m. miyabei - which is a landlocked species found on the island of Hokkaid?? in Japan.
The name has also been applied to still a third species Salvelinus alpinus, today more commonly known as Arctic char.
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