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Deepwater Sculpin

Deepwater Sculpin
   Photo: E.B.S. Logier / ROM

Features: The Deepwater Sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsoni) lives at the bottom of cold, deep lakes where it feeds on insect larvae and other invertebrates found in the mud. Although these fish can grow to a maximum length of 25 cm, their average length is 5-7 cm. Deepwater Sculpin area an prey food for predatory fish such as Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and burbot (Lota lota.

Status: Threatened Provincially (under review), Special Concern Nationally

Range: The range of deepwater sculpin extends from southern Quebec west to the Great Lakes and as far as Great Bear Lake in the North West Territories. The populations of deepwater sculpin in Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron appear to be abundant and widespread. In Lake Erie this species is rare and only juveniles (no adults) have been reported. The species was considered extirpated in Lake Ontario, but recently a small population was rediscovered in this lake.

Threats: It is not known why the Deepwater Sculpin declined so dramatically in Lakes Ontario and Erie, but these lakes were, and still are, subject to pollution. Bottom-feeding species such as sculpins are continually exposed to contaminants that accumulate in lake sediments. Secondly, lake eutrophication, which results in low oxygen levels, can also lead to extirpation. As well, zebra mussels may negatively affected the Deepwater Sculpins' invertebrate food source, which may impact some Great Lakes Deepwater Sculpin populations.

Protection: There is no specific legal protection for the species in Ontario. The habitat of Deepwater Sculpin is protected under the Fisheries Act.

Text Sources: Sheldon et al. 2006; Parker 1988a

Last Modified Date: June 2008

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