Field Guide - Bering Wolffish

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NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Adult Bering wolffish
NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Juvenile Bering wolffish

Bering Wolffish

Anarhichas orientalis

Number of Confirmed Sightings: 0

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Anarhichadidae
Genus: Anarhichas
Species: orientalis

Description: The Bering wolffish lives in the Bering and Chukchi Seas and the Northern Gulf of Alaska, including Prince William Sound. They live in cold coastal waters in gravel or sandy bottom substrate and are usually not found deeper than 100 meters. Wolffishes are long-lived and slow-growing and usually live as solitary individuals or in small groups.

Population status: This species may require habitat with a narrow range of characteristics for reproduction and distribution which may limit its population growth. Very little is known about current population size.

General characteristics: Large and elongated like an eel but with a defined tail, up to 1.2 meters and more than 40 pounds, brown, reddish brown, or black, and mottled and blotched, long dorsal fin with flexible spines starting at the head, large mouth, and tusk-like teeth at the front of the mouth and molars at the sides.

Female defining traits: No external differences from males, but may be a few inches shorter.

Male defining traits: No external differences from females, but may be a few inches longer.

Juvenile defining traits: Dark stripes on body.

Diet in the wild: Shellfish, sea urchins, and starfish.

Reproductive cycle: Sexual maturity may be reached at 15–17 cm, spawning period typically in winter, parent fish wraps around eggs to protect from predators until hatch 4 months later, eggs are large, and they are thought to produce a large quantity of eggs, but quantity is unknown.

Predators in the wild: Unknown.

Similar species: Northern wolffish and wolf-eel.

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