Atlantic Whitefish – Profile | Range | Biology | Migration | Endangered

Atlantic Whitefish

The Atlantic whitefish, scientific name Coregonus huntsmani is a coregonine fish inhabiting some freshwater lakes inside Nova Scotia, Canada. It is understood to outlive solely within the Petite Rivière watershed as landlocked populations. Earlier it was additionally discovered within the Tusket and Annis rivers of Nova Scotia. Those populations had been anadromous, migrating to the estuary to feed whereas breeding in freshwater.

Atlantic Whitefish profile

C. huntsmani was initially designated Coregonus canadensis, however, the species name was modified in 1987. Other frequent names that C. huntsmani is understood by are Acadian whitefish and sault whitefish.

The species was designated as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union in 1986 and weak in 1996. Nova Scotia prohibited the taking of Atlantic whitefish underneath the Canadian Fisheries Act.

The Atlantic whitefish has a typical salmonid body form and is silvery on the edges and underside with a darkish blue to the darkish buck. The landlocked populations feed on bugs and small fish. The reproduction of Atlantic whitefish in nature has not been noticed.

The narrowly endemic Atlantic whitefish is genetically distinct from the lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and the cisco (Coregonus artedi), which are widespread throughout a lot of continental North America.


Atlantic whitefish is an endangered species distinctive to Canada that exists solely in Nova Scotia. Historical data present that it might have as soon as been discovered all through southwestern Nova Scotia.

Today, its vary has shrunk additional, and the final wild inhabitants of Atlantic whitefish on the planet is discovered solely within the Petite Rivière watershed.

Size / Weight / Age

Max size : 40.Zero cm TL male/unsexed; frequent size : 27.5 cm TL male/unsexed

Atlantic Whitefish description

Dorsal spines (complete): 0; Dorsal smooth rays (total): 10-12; Anal spines: 0; Anal smooth rays: 9 – 12; Vertebrae: 63 – 64. Body elongate and tapering compressed laterally however much less so than lake whitefish, best body depth at the entrance of dorsal fin.

Head comparatively quick, by no means noticed with nuchal hump; eye small, adipose eyelid distinct; snout size at all times larger than eye diameter; higher jaw or snout projecting barely in giant males.

Atlantic Whitefish


Occurs in near-shore coastal waters, open water of lakes and small to giant rivers, and infrequently in present in rivers.

Size and look

This silvery-sided fish, with its bluish-green back, could be confused with the more frequent lake whitefish. In addition to their distinctive life cycle, Atlantic whitefish differ from lake whitefish by their comparatively smaller scales.

Atlantic whitefish even have well-developed teeth and are thought-about essentially the most historical species of the whitefish family in North America.

Atlantic Whitefish Migration

Historically, the Atlantic whitefish was anadromous, which means it spawned in freshwater however lived most of its life at sea. But as dams had been constructed within the 1800s for energy mills, its passage to the ocean was minimized off.


Atlantic whitefish might very effectively be probably the most endangered species in all of Canada. In addition to dams and boundaries which have blocked the species’ migration, smallmouth bass, and chain pickerel have been launched to the lakes the place it nonetheless lives.

While smallmouth bass and chain pickerel are native to Canada, they aren’t native to those lakes and have added a brand new predator that’s impacting the small inhabitants of Atlantic whitefish.

Other Recommended Reading


Atlantic whitefish is assessed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species and listed as endangered underneath Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

In 1984, it was the first fish in Canada to be assessed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Learn more about grouper fish.

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