Newfoundland Wildlife - Lives in the Water

Sculpin (Cottidae)

Sculpins, form a large family (300 species) of small northern fishes living on the bottom in both marine and fresh waters. Though primarily found in shallow waters, some species occur in depths to 1280 m. Approximately 16 species of sculpins exist from the Canadian Atlantic area. The se raven, longhorn, and shorthorn sculpin are the most popular species found in Newfoundland waters. Also known as gurnets, they are sometimes incorrectly called sea robins, grondin and gurnards, which are close relatives.


Sea Scallops: (Placopecten magellanicus)
Sea Scallops

They are also called giant or smooth scallops, are the most important commercial species of molluscan shellfish in Canada. They have two round shells, (with the commercial shell size ranging from 15 to 20 cm in diameter) nad are cream in color.

Sea scallops are found in the northwest Atlantic from the northern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the coastal waters of North Carolina in the United States. In the northern part of this range, they occur in shallow water (less than 18 m) while in the southern portion, they are found in water deeper than 55 m.

The offshore fishery occurs on Georges Bank off the southwestern tip of Nova Scotia. Depending on the area, scallop fishing can be conducted on a year-round basis.


Sei Whale: (Balaenoptera borealis)
Too big to fit in one photo

14 meters; 13 tons.

The sei whale is often confused with the larger blue and fin whales. Its blow is similar to that of a fin whale, but lower and the sei's dorsal fin is more hooked.

The sei shows little of itself when surfacing, although it may poke its head out of the water, it only arches its back slightly and does not show its flukes before quietly submerging. The sei whale is all one slate gray color on top and may be lighter gray underneath.

Look for several blows in succession as the sei lays on the surface resting between its dives. It may be seen in groups of two to five off Newfoundland.


Shrimp (Pandalus borealis )
The little guy

During the 1990s, carapace length statistics of northern shrimp decreased in commercial and survey catches off Newfoundland and Labrador. Decreased growth rates caused by decreases in per-capita food availability due to large population increases, exacerbated by increased metabolic demands from higher water temperatures in the mid-1990s, appear to be the main cause of the size decrease. Fishing could have had an accelerating effect on environmentally driven decreases in shrimp growth and size by `cropping' the largest shrimp from the population. The greatest decreases in shrimp size occurred in Hudson Strait and the adjacent northern shelf, the area which also has the highest densities and largest shrimp.


Silver Hake (Merluccius bilinearis)
Silver Hake

Silver Hake (Merluccius bilinearis)

Silver hake are members of the cod family, but are more slender and have two dorsal fins. They are dark gray with silver underparts. When freshly taken from the water, they are silvery iridescent, but the bright colour soon fades. Fish in the catch range from 20 to 30 cm in length and weigh between 0.1 and 0.3 kg.

Occurring from the Grand Banks to South Carolina, silver hake are mainly found on Georges Bank and on the Nova Scotia Banks, particularly on Browns Bank and the Sable Island Banks in depths of 55 to 275 m. Silver hake are generally found in the warmer waters of the Canadian Atlantic (7 to 10° C).

Formerly under-utilized in the Canadian fisheries and harvested mainly by fleets of other nations, silver hake were fished almost exclusively by Canadians using otter trawls in the late 1990s.

Silver Hake is sold in Baltimore as Lake Trout.


Skate (Raja senta) [smooth] (Raja radiata) [thorny]
An unpopular sea creature

The analysis of data for the St. Pierre Bank, which is to the south of Newfoundland, shows the average number of barndoor skate fell from about 0.6 million in the 1950s to fewer than 500 in the 1970s Meanwhile, smaller skate species, namely the horny skate and the smooth skate increased in biomass during the same interval. No barndoor skate have been caught on the St. Pierre Bank since the 1970s.


Smelt (Osmerus mordax)
Tiny Fish for Japan

Native to Newfoundland and Labrador. In the spring the sexually mature ripe smelt will leave either the sea or large lakes and travel up streams to spawn. In Newfoundland this can occur when the ice is still on many of the lakes. However, usually this occurs in March, April or May. The precise time depending on latitude and temperature, usually 8.90C is optimal.

It should be noted that the precise time of spawning is quite specific to the individual stream.

Spawning may last up to three weeks, but the peak seldom lasts more than a week. Spawning takes place at night with spawners returning to the lake or ocean by day . The length of both sexes will decrease in size as the period for spawning progresses. Two males will align themselves on either side of a ripe female. The female releases her eggs in clusters, with the milk of both males being released simultaneously. Eggs become adhesive shortly after extrusion, and attach to bottom gravel.


Snow Crab (Chionoecetes opilio)
Snow Crab

Snow crabs are common in the estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, around Cape Breton Island and in the bays of Newfoundland, from Fortune Bay to White Bay. They are also found near Hamilton Bank off Labrador.

Snow crabs live most commonly on muddy or sand-mud bottoms at temperatures ranging from -0.5 to 4.5°C. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, they are usually found at depths of 70 to 140 m, while in Cape Breton the depth varies from 45 to 245 m, and 170 to 380 m off Newfoundland. The distribution of small crabs is not well documented but they are occasionally found with the adults, or on gravelly bottoms at shallower depths. In some areas, there are indications that snow crabs move from gravel bottom to mud bottom, usually in deeper waters, as they reach maturity.


Sowerby's Beaked Whale (Mesopolodon bidens)
Where's the sexy lifeguard?

5 meters; 1.5 tons

It is also known as the north sea beaked whale, a rare whale of which little is known. It is thought to be mid-ocean whale which occasionally strays inshore feeding on squid and cod

The majority of whale strandings in the Western north Atlantic have occurred in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Sowerby's is slate gray on the dorsal side and lighter gray on the ventral region. In adult males two teeth are often seen about one third of the way back on the beak erupted outside the mouth. The beak is around 50 cm long. One onlooker said the head looks like a thermos.


Sperm Whale: (Physeter catadon)
No jokes, please.

13 meters; 28 tons

The largest of the toothed whales is often referred to as "Moby Dick." Located at the front of its head, the single blowhole sends a slanted 5-meter misty spray out 45 degrees from its body. Its massive square head and the series of bumps that replace its dorsal fin easily identify the sperm whale It is slate gray. Sperm whales, like the humpback, will throw their tails high into the air when diving.

They are found offshore hunting for squid in deep water, but occasionally can be seen inshore singly or in small groups.


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