Atlantic Whitefish

Scientific name: Coregonus huntsmani
Mi’kmaq name:


The Atlantic Whitefish is a salmonid with an elongated body, a fleshy adipose fin, and a deeply forked caudal fin (tail). It has a dark green to dark blue back, slightly lighter sides and a silvery white belly. It has a dusky dorsal and caudal fins and light pelvic and anal fins. Landlocked, it is 20-25 cm long.


They are typically anadromous (sea run) fish, which spawn in the freshwater then return to the ocean. However, in the Petite Riviere, Atlantic Whitefish occur in three connected lakes above Hebb Dam. Therefore, they are landlocked and unable to return to the ocean. They are found in the deeper cool waters in these lakes.

Atlantic Whitefish occur in Hebb, Millipsigate and Minamkeak Lakes. You can seen them in captivity at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg or at the Mersey Biodiversity Facility in Milton.

Interesting Points:

  • The most primitive of all North American Whitefishes (oldest evolutionary link).
  • Found nowhere else in the world.
  • Also known as the Acadian, Sault, or Round Whitefish.
  • According to old stories, Tusket River Atlantic Whitefish were so plentiful they were taken by the truckload and used as fertilizer or lobster bait.


  • Hydroelectric dam construction prevents passage to the sea.
  • Habitat acidification from acid rain and pollution.
  • Competition from introduced species (smallmouth bass, chain pickerel).
  • Poor land use practices (agricultural, forestry and residential).
  • Poaching and recreational fishing.

Courtesy of Species at Risk in Nova Scotia: Identification & Information Guide


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