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The Northern Wolffish is a marine fish with protruding front teeth and powerful jaws. Its head is small, with a small mouth, blunt snout and small eyes. Its body is long and stout with small or no pectoral fins. It has a uniform body colour, ranging from charcoal-black to dark chocolate.

Weight: 13.5 to 20 kg (30 to 44 lb). Length: 0.8 to 1.45 m (2.6 to 4.8 ft), but can grow up to 180 cm (5.9 ft)

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A primarily eastern species, it is found as far north as the Davis Strait off Nunavut, off southwest Greenland, on the northeast Newfoundland and Labrador shelves, on the Flemish Cap, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and sometimes on the Scotian Shelf. Northern Wolffish have been reported in only two locations in the NWT: Prince Albert Sound on western Victoria Island and Mould Bay on Prince Patrick Island.

Range map information

The Northern Wolffish is a solitary fish that is slow-growing and long-lived. It inhabits cold, deep ocean waters and preys on jellyfish, sea urchins, crabs and starfish. This fish does not undertake long migrations and the size of its territory is very restricted.

The Northern Wolffish is found over sand and shell hash bottom types in temperatures between 2.5°C and 4.5°C, and at depths between 500 and 1,000 m.

Northern Wolffish reach maturity at five years of age and can live to 14 years. The fearsome teeth of the Northern Wolffish ensure that it has few natural predators. In most areas it inhabits, this fish is not eaten by humans because of its watery and jelly-like flesh.

 It is unknown if the Northern Wolffish is rare in the NWT or if the lack of captures reflects the limited amount of fishing effort in marine waters of the western Arctic.

Potential threats to Northern Wolffish in the NWT are unknown.

COSEWIC assessed Northern Wolffish as a Threatened species in 2001 and again in 2012. Northern Wolffish was listed as a Threatened species under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2003. A national recovery strategy for Northern Wolffish is available on the federal Species at Risk Public Registry.