The Skagerrak strait runs between Norway and the southwest coast of Sweden and the Jutland peninsula of Denmark, connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat strait, which leads to the Baltic Sea.


The names for both "Skagerrak" and "Kattegat" are of Dutch origin. "Skagerrak" is derived from the Dutch word for "Skagen", the northernmost tip of Jutland. The syllable "rak" means a straight waterway.Nudansk Ordbog (1993), 15th edition, 2nd reprint, Copenhagen: Politikens Forlag, entry "Skagerrak".] [Den Store Danske Encyklopædi (2004), CD-ROM edition, Copenhagen: Gyldendal, entry "Skagerrak".] The ultimate source of this syllable is the Proto-Indo-European root *reg-, "straight". No evidence suggests a connection to the modern Danish word "rak" (meaning rabble or riff-raff).

According to "Den Store Danske Encyklopædi" and "Politikens Nydansk Ordbog", the name "Kattegat" derives from the Dutch words "Kat" (cat) and "Gat" (hole). It refers to late medieval navigation, where captains compared this region to a hole so narrow that even a cat would have difficulty creeping through due to the many reefs and shallow waters. [Den Store Danske Encyklopædi (2004), CD-ROM edition, Copenhagen: Gyldendal, entry "Kattegat".] Nudansk Ordbog (1993), 15th edition, 2nd reprint, Copenhagen: Politikens Forlag, entry "Kattegat".] At one point, the passable waters are a mere 3.84 kilometers (2.38 miles) wide. An older name for both the Skagerrak and Kattegat was the "Norwegian Sea" or "Jutland Sea". Knýtlinga saga mentions the name "Jótlandshaf" for both waters.


The Skagerrak is roughly triangular in shape, measuring km to mi|240|wiki=yes in length, and between km to mi|80|abbr=yes and km to mi|140|abbr=yes in width. It deepens toward the Norwegian coast, reaching over 700 metres at the Norwegian Trench. Some ports along the Skagerrak are Oslo and Kristiansand in Norway and Uddevalla and Strömstad in Sweden.

The Skagerrak has a salinity of 30 practical salinity units. The volume available to biomass is about km2 to mi2|3600|wiki=yes, including a wide variety of habitats from the sandbanks to Sweden and Denmark to the deeps of the Norwegian trench.


In both world wars, the Skagerrak was strategically very important for Germany. One of the biggest sea battles of World War I, the Battle of Jutland, also known as the Battle of the Skagerrak, took place there May 31 to June 1, 1916. The importance of controlling this waterway, the only natural access to the Baltic, provided the motivation for the German invasion of Denmark and Norway during World War II.


The Skagerrak provides a habitat for approximately 2000 marine species, many of them adapted to its waters. For example, a variety of Atlantic cod called the Skagerrak cod spawns off the Norwegian coast. The eggs are buoyant and the hatchlings feed on zooplankton. Juveniles sink to the bottom where they have a shorter maturity cycle (2 years). They do not migrate but remain local to Norwegian fjords.

The variety of habitats and the large volume of plankton on the surface support a prolific marine life. Energy moves from the top to the bottom according to Vinogradov's ladder of migrations; that is, some species are benthic and others pelagic but there are graded layers in which species move vertically for short distances. In addition, some species are benthopelagic, moving between surface and bottom.

The benthic species include "Coryphaenoides rupestris", "Argentina silus", "Etmopterus spinax", "Chimaera monstrosa" and "Glyptocephalus cynoglossus". On the top are "Clupea harengus", "Scomber scombrus", "Sprattus sprattus". Some species that move between are "Pandalus borealis", "Sabinea sarsi", "Etmopterus spinax".


External links

* [ Skagerrak Deep-water Fish Assemblage]

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