Newfoundland Wildlife - Lives in the Water

Squid (Illex illecebrosus)
These guys can grow to be VERY big.

Squid belong to the class Cephalopoda of the Phylum Mollusca. There are approximately 650 recognized species of cephalopods alive today and more than 10,000 fossil forms. Cephalopod translates literally into "head footed" which explains why squid, as well as the nautilus, cuttlefish and octopus among others, with their arms and tentacles attached directly to their heads, are so named.

People are often surprised to learn that the rapidly-swimming squid, with no external shell, is related to molluscs such as clams, oysters and snails. In fact, squid have a small internal shell called a pen which extends along the back of the body and acts as a support to the soft, muscular body.
Giant squid are very widespread, occurring in all of the world's oceans. They are usually found near continental and island slopes from the North Atlantic Ocean, especially Newfoundland. Like all squid, a giant squid has a mantle (torso), eight arms and two longer tentacles. The arms and tentacles account for much of the squid's great length, so giant squid are much lighter than their chief predators, sperm whales. Scientifically documented specimens have weighed hundreds, rather than thousands, of kilograms.


Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)

Today, in Canada, Japanese fishing companies hold about 70 commercial tuna licences. There are Japanese vessels that commercially harvest tuna off of the Newfoundland coast. There are only about four licences for recreational tuna fishing held in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Newfoundlanders traditionally refer to Blue Fin Tuna as Horse Mackerel. This is because Blue Fin Tuna resemble the destinctive shape of the mackerel.

An adult Blue Fin Tuna can weigh more than 300 Kilos. Blue Fin Tuna are designed by nature for speed. They are capable of speeds over 80km an hour.

In the late 1950's and 1960's Blue Fin Tuna fishing became a popular recreational activity, in Newfoundland. By the mid sixties, there were about 40 boats involved in sport fishing for tuna and at it's height more than 300 Blue Fin Tuna were being caught each year.

Because of commercial and recreational fishing, Blue Fin Tuna stocks have been seriously diminished in the North West Atlantic. However, tuna flesh remains in high demand. The price of tuna flesh varies from about $20 a kilo to $150 a kilo, depending upon quality, supply and demand.


Turbot (Greenland Halibut) (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides)
One of the fanciest of all sea creatures.

Turbot, also known as Greenland halibut, are large flatfish more similar to the Atlantic halibut than the European turbot.

They are yellowish or grayish brown and, unlike other flatfish, the dark pigmentation is fairly uniform over the whole body, although the colouring is lighter on the blind side. The tail, like that of halibut, is forked, but the lateral line, unlike that of halibut, is straight rather than arched. The average weight in the commercial catch ranges from about 0.5 to 4.5 kg.

Turbot are found from Arctic waters south to Georges Bank. They occur in deep waters and the fishery is confined, for the most part, to the deep bays of Newfoundland, Labrador, Baffin Island and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Traditionally a line trawl fishery, gill nets are now being used to harvest these fish. Offshore catches are made by otter trawl. The bulk of the turbot catch goes to market as fresh or frozen fillets.


White Hake (Urophycis tenuis)
White Hake

White hake are somewhat cod-like but have only two, rather than three, dorsal fins, and only one anal fin. The colour varies considerably, with the back usually reddish to muddy brown and the belly pale gray, yellowish or white. They are normally 40 to 100 cm long and are taken by otter trawls, gillnets, longlines and handlines in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, and along the eastern Scotian Shelf and western Grand Banks.


White-beaked dolphin (Lagenorhychus albirostris)
Go! Go! Go!

2.7 meters; 200 kilograms

They are frequent travelers to Newfoundland and Labrador and are often confused with white-sided dolphins. Its short white beak marks it apart. The white patches fore and aft of the dorsal fin can be seen when the animal surfaces to breathe. The large grey and white patches that straddle the back behind the fin extend almost to the tail and distinguish it from the white-sided dolphin whose sides are more yellow. It is common to the east and northeast coasts and colder water. Occasionally it is entrapped in ice.


Winter Flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus)
Winter Flounder

Winter flounder range all along the North American coast in the inshore and inshore waters from Labrador to Georgia.

Sometimes spotted or mottled, the eyed side varies from a muddy reddish-brown to almost black. The blind side is white and often tinged with yellow. Winter flounder have small mouths and seldom exceed 45 cm in length or 1.4 kg in weight. inshore fishermen harvest them with hand lines, spears and trap nets while inshore fishermen use otter trawls and tangle nets.

The winter flounder catch is marketed as fresh or frozen Fillets of Sole.


Witch Flounder (Glyptocephalus cynoglossus)
Witch Flounder

Also commonly known as the gray sole, this species owes its witch-like appearance to a grayish-brown body trimmed with dark gray or black fins. The underside is grayish-white. The mouth is small and the lateral line is almost straight. Fish in commercial fisheries are usually between 33 and 50 cm and weigh between 0.3 and 1 kg.

Witch occur in the moderately deep waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador where they are harvested with otter trawls and seine nets. Witch are principally marketed as fresh or frozen Fillets of Sole.


Yellowtail Flounder (Limanda ferruginea)
Yellowtail Flounder

Yellowtail flounder, commonly known as yellowtail or lemon sole, are found along the continental shelf from southern Labrador to Chesapeake Bay. They are brownish-olive on the eyed topside, with numerous rusty spots, and the tail is yellow. The mouth is relatively small and the lateral line is arched. Average length is 38 to 40 cm and average weight is about 0.5 to 0.6 kg.

Yellowtail are caught chiefly with otter trawls. They are marketed primarily as frozen fillets of flounder but are also available as fresh whole fish or fillets.


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