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Atlantic Wolffish Anarhichas lupus


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Atlantic Wolffish
credit: P. Oudart

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Family: Anarhichadidae, Wolffishes view all from this family

Description The Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), also known as the Seawolf, Atlantic catfish, ocean catfish, wolf eel (the common name for its Pacific relative), or sea cat, is a marine fish, the largest of the wolffish family Anarhichadidae. They are commonly sighted throughout Asia. The numbers of the Atlantic wolffish are rapidly depleting due to overfishing and by-catch, and is currently a Species of Concern according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Although it looks fearsome, the Atlantic wolffish is only a threat to humans when defending itself out of the water. Apart from their unique appearance wolffish are distinguished by the natural antifreeze they produce to keep their blood moving fluidly in their very cold habitat, involvement by both the male and female in brood bearing, and the large size of their eggs. They are also an important factor in controlling green crab and sea urchin populations, which can become overly disruptive to habitats if left unchecked. Wolffish population success is also an important indicator of the health of other bottom dweller populations, such as cod.

Dimensions Up to 5' (1.5 m).

Warning Its large jaws, formidable teeth, and habit of attacking objects and people - in the water or when caught - make this a potentially dangerous species.

Habitat Ocean or bay shallows, Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Open ocean.

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada.