Salvelinus alpinus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Arctic char
photo by Ueberschär, B.

Family:  Salmonidae (Salmonids), subfamily: Salmoninae
Max. size:  107 cm TL (male/unsexed); max.weight: 15 kg; max. reported age: 40 years
Environment:  benthopelagic; depth range 0 - 70 m, anadromous
Distribution:  Europe and North America: Circumpolar (Ref. 86798). Iceland, Scandinavia, northern Russia (absent in rivers draining to Baltic and White Seas), Jan Mayen, Spitzberg, Kolguev, Bear and New Zemblia islands, northern Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland; absent in the Alps (Ref. 59043). North America: coastal areas in Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific drainages from Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada to Alaska; south along Alantic Slope to Maine, USA (Ref. 86798). Landlocked populations in Quebec, Canada and in Maine and New Hampshire in USA (Ref. 7251).
Diagnosis:  Dorsal spines (total): 4-5; Dorsal soft rays (total): 8-16; Anal spines: 3-4; Anal soft rays: 7-15; Vertebrae: 62-68. Distinguished by the presence of 23 to 32 gill rakers, 37 to 75 pyloric caeca and, on the sides and back, pink to red spots, the largest of which are usually larger than the pupil of the eye (Ref. 27547). Lateral line curves slightly downward from the head (Ref. 27547). Pelvic fins with axillary process; caudal emarginate (Ref. 27547). Color highly variable, depending on location, time of year and degree of sexual development. In general, back is dark, usually rather brown but sometimes with a green cast; the sides are lighter, belly pale; sides and back are liberally sprinkled with pink to red spots, the largest spots along the lateral line usually larger than the pupil of the eye; forward edges of pectoral, pelvic and anal fins, and sometimes the caudal, with a narrow white margin; fins pale in young, dorsal and caudal dark in adults (Ref. 27547). Spawning adults, especially males, are brilliant orange-red to bright red on the ventral side and on the pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. Young have about 11 dark parr marks on each side (Ref. 27547). Caudal fin with 19 rays (Ref. 2196).
Biology:  Anadromous forms spend a considerable time of their lives at sea; non-migratory populations remain in lakes and rivers (Ref. 4779). Occurs mainly in lakes. Found in rivers, estuaries and lakes with cold, clear water. At the sea, lives along coasts (Ref. 59043). Inhabits deep runs and pools of medium to large rivers, and lakes (Ref. 5723, 86798). Anadromous populations enter rivers to breed during fall and winter (Ref. 86798). Nerito-pelagic (Ref. 58426). Freshwater populations feed on planktonic crustaceans, amphipods, mollusks, insects and fishes (Ref. 4479). Anadromous individuals feed little in freshwater and never feed during migrations. Spawning usually takes place on pebble to stone bottom in lakes. Riverine stocks spawn in rivers with slow current (02.-0.8 m/s), but there are some riverine anadromous stocks (in Norway) which spawn yearly in fast-flowing waters of riffles (Ref. 59043). Extremely sensitive to water pollution (cold water and oxygen oriented) (Ref. 2163). Marketed fresh, smoked, canned (Ref. 27547), and frozen. Eaten sautéed, broiled, fried, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988). Parasitized by tapeworm (Ref. 37032).
IUCN Red List Status: (Ref. 115185)
Threat to humans:  harmless
Country info:   
 

Entered by: Luna, Susan M. - 17.10.90
Modified by: Torres, Armi G. - 09.08.17
Checked by: Agustin, Liza Q. - 21.07.94

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