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Cephalopods – Cephalopoda

Cephalopods are an ancient group of animals that have existed for about 500 million years. Like bivalves and gastropods, they belong to the class Mollusca, although their relationship is not necessarily obvious. 



Blue whale

The blue whale is the world's biggest animal, even if we count the enormous dinosaurs that died out more than 60 million years ago. The largest blue whales caught in the Antarctic were up to 32.6 metres long and could weigh up to 190 tonnes.


Greenland halibut

Greenland halibut is a flatfish. It resembles Atlantic halibut, but the blind side is pigmented and is only slightly brighter than the eye side. Greenland halibut has an active way of life with migrations both vertically and horizontally but occurs rarely in water warmer than about 4 oC. It is a long-life species that is vulnerable to overexploitation. 


Blue ling

The blue ling (Molva dypterygia) is a benthopelagic fish of the family Gadidae in the North Atlantic. 



Anglerfish in the Northeast Atlantic actually comprise to closely related species. The Norwegian catches are almost exclusively white-bellied anglerfish (Lophius piscatorius), while only a few certain observations are made of the black-bellied anglerfish (L. budegassa).


Stinging jellyfish

Jellyfish are familiar summer visitors to Norway’s beaches and fjords. They are frequently encountered by swimmers and can get caught in fishing nets. In both cases there is a clear and present danger of coming in contact with the tentacles trailing underneath their dome-like mantles where stinging projectiles (called nematocysts) lay waiting to be released. 



Sprat are schooling fish that live in pelagic waters, and are seldom found deeper than 150 m. They often make vertical migrations relative to fluctuating light of day, and go to the surface when the brightness decreases. In the summer they occur higher in the water column, often near the surface.



Tusk is a bottom dweller that prefers stony bottoms on the continental shelf and slope at depths between 100 and 1000 meters. The adults live in relatively deep water, while the juveniles prefer shallow water.


Fin whale

Fin whales are found in all the oceans of the world and local populations are even found in the Mediterranean. In the southern hemisphere, fin whales reach about 26 metres (females) and 25 metres (males). They are somewhat shorter in the northern hemisphere and weigh from 60–80 tonnes in the south and 40–50 tonnes in the north. 

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Flat oyster

The European flat oyster is indigenous to European waters; found in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, on the coast of Morocco and north along the European coasts north to Trøndelag. We can find them from just below the tidal zone down to a few meters’ depth. 


Sea spiders

There is some disagreement as to how sea spiders should be classified, but for a long time they have been considered arthropods. They are marine animals, and are found in all of the oceans and at both poles. Pycnogonida means “with many knees”, and refers to the many segments that make up the legs.

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Grey seal

The grey seals occur on the east and west coasts of the North Atlantic, in Europa from Biscaya to the Kola coast in Russia, including the Baltic. In Norway from Rogaland to Finnmark, they occur in colonies on the outermost islands.

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Snake pipefish

The snake pipefish is a bony fish in the family of pipefishes and seahorses (Syngnathidae). The species occurs in shallow waters from Northern Norway to the Azores, and is the largest Syngnathid found in Norwegian waters.


Horse mackerel

The horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) is widely distributed from Africa to the Norwegian Sea. It is a pelagic fish feeding on zooplankton, fish larvae and smaller fish. International catches of western horse mackerel are annually around 150 000 tonnes.


Lobster – European

The lobster in Norwegian waters lives along the coast from the Swedish border to Trøndelag, and sporadically in Nordland. You can usually find it from 5 to 40 meters deep.



The haddock is easily recognizable on the black spot under the foremost dorsal fin. There are several populations of haddock in Norwegian waters. Here you can read about Northeast Arctic haddock and haddock in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat.


White whale

The beluga and the narwhale constitute the family Monodontidae. Both species are medium sized odontocetes (toothed whales) distributed in Arctic waters.

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Whiting in the North Sea spawns over a period of several months. In the south, the spawning season starts already in January, and in the north eggs and larvae have been observed as late as September.


Great scallop

Great scallop are common along the coasts of the North-eastern Atlantic Ocean from the Iberian peninsula in the south to Vestfjorden in the north. They are found on sandy bottom from just below the intertidal zone and down to depths of more than 100 m. In Norwegian waters they are most common at depths of 5–30 m in the counties of Sør-Trøndelag, Nord-Trøndelag and Nordland.


Hooded seals

Hooded seals are widespread in the Arctic parts of the North Atlantic. Adults gather in patches in the drifting pack ice during the breeding period in March. Pups born on the ice, where they remain throughout the lactation period, which lasts for four to five days.


Humpback whale

With its extremely long pectoral fins (a third of its body length), hump on its back and wart-like growths on its upper and lower mandibles, the humpback whale is distinct from the other whales in the fin whale family. The generic name Megaptera is of Greek origin and means ”large-winged" (mega = large; ptera = wing). This obviously refers to the long pectoral fins. 


Blue whiting

Blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) is one of the most abundant fish stocks in the semi-pelagic water masses of the northeast Atlantic. The species is most common at 100–600 m depth, but is also found close to the surface in connection with diurnal vertical migrations. In shallow water the species is found close to the bottom.


Red King Crab

The red king crab is one of five species in the same family. Three of the species live in the northern part of the Pacific and the Bering Sea. The other two live off the coast of California. The red king crab is the only one found in the Barents Sea.



Atlantic halibut is the largest vertebrate fish species in our waters. It has grey pigmentation on its eyed side and a white pigmentation on its blind side.


Costal cod - north of the 62 latitude

Cod living in coastal areas and fjords is called coastal cod. On the long Norwegian coastline there are numerous local cod stocks.


Salmon – Atlantic

The Atlantic salmon is an anadromous fish. They spend their first years in freshwater, and when they are big enough they undergo physiological and morphological changes, and migrate into seawter as a ’smolt’.


Sea lice

The salmon louse is the most common parasite on farmed salmon, and the biggest disease problem in the aquaculture industry in Norway. Monitoring programs of salmon lice shows that the magnitude of the problem is increasing and that in many cases the lice have become resistant to frequently used treatments such as oral and bath treatments.



Ling inhabit various environments: areas of hard or sandy seabeds with scattered large rocks; warm, relatively deep habitats on the continental shelf; on north Atlantic sea banks; in fjords from the Bay of Biscay to Iceland; on the Skagerrak and Kattegat, and in the southwestern Barents Sea. Ling also dwell in the northwest Atlantic from southern Greenland to Newfoundland. 

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Five different species of wrasse commonly occur in Norwegian waters.


Capelin in the Barents Sea

Capelin is a small pelagic fish with distribution in the polar and subpolar regions of the northern hemisphere. Capelin is a typical pelagic shoal fish that feeds on plankton organisms and is an important prey for predators higher up the food chain, especially cod. Capelin in the Barents Sea are semelparous, i.e. they die shortly after spawning.



European hake in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Norwegian coastal waters.



Northeast Atlantic (NEA) mackerel is found in a huge area extending from the Iberian Peninsula in the south to the northern Norwegian Sea up to Svalbard in the north. Mackerel is a fast-swimming schooling pelagic fish, and feed on a variety of zooplankton and small fish. 


Bluefin tuna

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is the most iconic fish species in the world. It is the largest of all tuna species and one of the largest fish species on our blue planet. They can reach sizes of more than 3 meters in length and weigh more than 700 kg. They can reach swimming speeds of up to 70 km/h, cross the Atlantic Ocean in 50 days and dive deeper than 1000 m depths.



The porpoise is all small toothed whale about one and a half metres long. In Norway, the porpoise takes its name, "nise", from an Old Norse word for to sneeze. This refers to the sound of the spout when the porpoise comes to the surface to breathe. The porpoise has a dark grey back and somewhat lighter abdomen with a dark stripe from the corner of the mouth to the pectoral fin. Together with five other species, they form the Phocoenidae family.


North Sea herring

North Sea herring is a pelagic shoal fish found in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat. There are autumn, winter and spring spawning herring in the area, but the autumn spawning North Sea herring dominates.


Norwegian spring-spawning herring

The herring is a pelagic fish inhabiting the upper water masses. Norwegian spring-spawning herring (NSSH) belongs to the Atlanto-Scandian herring together with Icelandic summer-spawning and Icelandic spring-spawning herring.

Spiny dogfish

Several shark species are found in Norwegian waters. The most common are spurdog, velvet-belly lanternshark, Greenland shark, porbeagle and basking shark. Spurdog is one of the most abundant sharks we know, and it has a worldwide distribution. The species is divided into several stocks, and the Northeast Atlantic stock is found from the Bay of Biscay to the Barents Sea.


Polar cod

Polar cod is a pelagic or semi pelagic fish, ie. it lives in the free water masses, but is usually distributed down to the bottom, often in very dense concentrations. It is a cold-water species which thrives best north of the Polar front. 


Deep-water shrimp

Deep-water shrimp/Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) is the most important shellfish resource in the North Atlantic, with a fishery of about 250,000–400,000 tonnes annually. The species is also found in colder parts of the Pacific Ocean. 



Despite its commercial interest, lumpfish is a poorly studied group, and many aspects of its lifecycle and ecology are unknown. Lumpfish is a semi-pelagic species. The adults are distributed in the open ocean but migrate towards coastal areas to spawn. This happens during the spring season and the males generally arrive at the coast before the females.

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European plaice are distributed in the eastern Atlantic from the Barents Sea in the north and south to the northwest coast of Africa.


Northeast Arctic saithe

Saithe occur only in the North Atlantic, with a small population in the western part between the border of Canada and USA. In the Northeast Atlantic saithe is currently divided into six stocks primarily in the area west of Ireland, west of Scotland, around the Faroe Islands, Iceland, the North Sea, and along the Norwegian coast north of Stad.


Norway lobster

The Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) occurs in the Western Mediterranean Sea and in the Northeast Atlantic from Morocco to Lofoten.

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Sea stars – Asteroidea

Sea stars belong to the echinoderms, together with the brittle stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers and sea lilies.


Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio)

Snow crab are found in the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans. In the North Atlantic, they are found from Greenland in the northeast Atlantic and from southern Labrador of the Gulf of Maine in the northwest Atlantic. 


Killer whale

The killer whale is the largest species in the dolphin family (Delphinidae). With its high dorsal fin and its clear pattern with its white abdomen, a white spot behind the eye and a grey saddle patch on an otherwise black body, the killer whale is easily recognisable.


Harbour seals

Harbour and grey seals are known as coastal seals in Norway. They occur in colonies distributed along the coast and they complete their entire life cycle in coastal waters.


Pacific oyster

The Pacific oyster is easily differentiated from the indigenous European flat oyster by its shape and shell structure. The European flat oyster has a rounded flat shell with a fine, “flaky” surface. The Pacific oyster is usually longer, has a cupped lower shell and a rough surface, often with radial brownish or violet lines.

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Atlantic Bonito

The Atlantic bonito is a mackerel-like fish in the Scombrid family. It can reach 5 years in age, 90 cm in length and weigh 11 kg. The bonito is characterized with their dark blue with black lines extending from its dorsal fin down and forward to its abdomen.


Edible crab

The edible crab (brown crab) is an important commercial species with a wide distribution, ranging from Northern Norway to the coast of Morocco and the Mediterranean in the south. In Norway, this marine crab can be found in high densities along the entire coast from the Skagerrak in the south until Troms in the north and sporadic occurrence all the way to the North Cape.


Cod – Northeast Arctic

Cod is a predatory fish and mainly a demersal fish, but in the Barents Sea it is also to a large extent distributed in the pelagic water masses during some parts of the year. 



There are several species of redfish in Norwegian waters. Golden redfish (Sebastes norvegicus), deep-sea redfish (Sebastes mentella) and Norway redfish (Sebastes viviparus). In addition, there is a separate population of beaked redfish in the Irminger Sea. This is composed of two pelagic populations that, with a certain overlap, are largely separated at depths. 


Minke whale

Common minke whales reach up to 10 metres in length. The females are slightly longer than the males. The common minke whales in the northern hemisphere have dark backs with a lighter, almost whitish abdomen. The pectoral fin has a clear white band. They have whitish baleen.

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Brown trout

Brown trout (Salmo trutta) is a species in the salmon family (Salmonidae) and has a wide natural distribution. This is the only trout species in Norway, and different populations of brown trout may occur in fresh water and salt water.


Norway pout

Norway pout is a small, short-lived fish species in the cod family (Gadidae) that lives at depths ranging from 50–250 meters.

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The Anguillidae family of freshwater eels is comprised of approximately 19 different species around the world.