Newfoundland Wildlife - Lives in the Water

Narwhal Whale (Monodon monoceros)
Ever seen 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

4.9 meters; 1.8 tons

It spends its winter home among the pack ice of the eastern Arctic. Narwhals have a cylindrical body, a gray back with white blotches and no dorsal fin.

The 2-meter long, spiraled tusk of male Narwhals grows from a tooth and can weigh up to 10 kilograms. The tusk may be used for male combat in competition for females.

Polar bears hunt Narwhals from the pack ice and killer whales prey on them in open water. They are rarely seen in Newfoundland waters.


Newfoundland Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis)
Don't swim here in bare feet at high tide.

Newfoundland blue mussels are succulent, sweet tasting, and affordable ocean treats. Plump, sweet, tender meats from our nutrient-rich bays fed by icy Arctic currents. Newfoundland blue mussels are high in protein, low in fat, and an above-average source of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. One serving of mussels provides close to 100% of the daily-recommended intake of zinc, promoting good growth, brain function, and enhanced immunity to guard against flu and colds.

Cultured off-bottom, using long-line techniques, in the iceberg-chilled waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, Newfoundland blue mussels are superior in taste and quality compared to mussels raised in warmer waters, or wild and bottom-cultured mussels. Beaches in Newfoundland are filled with Blue Mussel shells, the result of their popularity with so many preditors.


Orca Whale: (Orcinus orca)
Free Garge!!

7.5 meters; 7 tons

The most distinguishing feature of the orca or killer whale is the long pointed fin of up to 2 meters in males. Look for the white spot behind the eye that stands out against the glossy black body. Killer whales travel in small pods of three to ten animals, which remain a unit for life. They are hunters at the top of the food chain with the fastest and largest mammals falling prey.

They have been observed eating humpbacks on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. You may see them in the Strait of Belle Isle, off St. John's, the northeast coast and in the bays of the Avalon Peninsula


Pollock (Pollachius virens)
Pollock - The other cod meat

Pollock are also members of the cod family. For years, these spirited, saltwater fish were unappreciated except by sport fishermen. Now, they are eagerly sought as a commercial species in their own right.

Pollock range from southern Labrador to Cape Cod, but are fished primarily in coastal waters and on the offshore banks of the Scotian Shelf, Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine.

Deep-bodied with three dorsal and two anal fins, pollock differ from cod and haddock by having a pointed snout and projecting lower jaw. The back is brownish-green, paling to a yellowish smoky-gray or green on the sides, and the belly is silver-gray. The lateral line, like that of cod, is pale, but there are no spots. Fish in the commercial catch range are usually from 1 to 4 kg in weight.

Pollock are principally caught with otter trawls, although other types of gear such as long lines, hand lines and gill nets are also used. Pollock are marketed as Boston Bluefish frozen fillets or frozen breaded items such as portions and sticks.


Pothead/Pilot Whale: (Globicephala melaena)
Pothead/Pilot Whale

5 meters; 3 tons

The pilot whale gets its local name "pothead" from its round pot-shaped head. In late summer and early autumn you may see groups of 20 to 100, so watch for lots of blows together. These toothed whales come to these waters in search of squid, but they also eat fish. Potheads are dark black and have a long curved dorsal fin.

Viewing areas include Conception, Trinity and Bonavista Bays.


Rainbow Trout (Salmo gairdneri)
Rainbow Trout

California was the source for this trout introduced in Newfoundland between the 1880s and 1908. They are now well settled in waterways on the Avalon Peninsula, and are said to have been introduced in Little Bay Islands, Notre Dame Bay and the Corner Brook area. Rainbows here live in both fresh and saltwater. In the latter, they become more silvery in colour and are called steelhead. At selected places on the island the species is grown through commercial aquaculture.


Red Hake (Urophycis chuss)
Red Hake

Red hake are a lesser known species of fish which in the past has been used in the production of fish meal. Because of pressure on traditional white fish such as cod, haddock and flounder, whole hake -which has an excellent mild flavour - has been introduced in North American fresh fish markets as an alternative to the better known varieties.

Red hake make interesting subjects for study. Except for a few minor details, they resemble white hake to such an extent that distinguishing one from the other becomes quite difficult; in fact, at the egg and early larval stages it is impossible. In both instances the eggs measure less than one mm in diameter, and contain a small droplet of oil which allows them to float in plankton. The larvae of both species are darkly coloured and have large pelvic fins and relatively large eyes.


Redfish (Ocean Perch) (Sebastes marinus)
Ocean Perch

There are three species of redfish that are fished commercially in the Canadian Atlantic but they are so similar that it is not possible to distinguish them easily. Redfish are also commonly known as ocean perch or rosefish and became commercially important in North America around 1935 as a result of technological advances in filleting and fast freezing. Redfish frequent the deep waters of gullies and slopes of the continental shelf from southern Labrador to the Gulf of Maine, including the Flemish Cap and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Redfish are relatively small, spiny fish with an orange to flame-red body that contrasts vividly with their large black eyes. In the commercial catch, they usually range in length from 20 to 35 cm and their average weight is about 0.5 kg. Because redfish grow very slowly (about 2.5 cm per year), they are especially vulnerable to intensive fishing. The abundance of several stocks was low in the 1990s and fishing was prohibited in some areas.
Redfish are caught primarily by midwater trawls but may also be fished with bottom otter trawls.

Redfish are mostly sold in fresh and frozen form as ocean perch fillets.


Right Whale: (Eubalaena glacialis)
Right Whales can jump

15 meters; 54 tons.

It would be rare for you to sight a northern right whale Once it was the "right" whale to hunt because it was slow and floated when harpooned. Now there are reported to be less than 400 left. The right whale has smooth black skin and no fin. Its blow holes are widely separated causing its blow to appear heart-shaped. The right whale can be confused with the bowhead whale but the right whale has callosities wart-like bumps that cover its head. These callosities are home to whale lice, barnacles and other parasites.

The recorded sightings in Newfoundland are in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, St. Mary's Bay and the east coast


Ringed Seal: (Phoca hispida hispida)

1.4 meters; 60 kilograms

The ringed seal is the smallest seal common to the island. Its body is like the harbour seal, although its head is small and round and its large brown eyes and pointed snout make it look more catlike. It is named from the light coloured rings on its blueish-grey or brown back. Its belly is silver. The ringed seal prefers areas where ice is fast against the land but in spring it is seen among the drifting ice flows.


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