Species Profile

Lake Whitefish Lake Simcoe population

Scientific Name: Coregonus clupeaformis
Other/Previous Names: Lake Simcoe Whitefish,Lake Simcoe Whitefish
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2005
Last COSEWIC Designation: Data Deficient
SARA Status: Schedule 2, Threatened - (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Lake Whitefish


The Lake Simcoe Whitefish has a dark brown to black back, while its sides are silvery and its underparts are whitish. It has small eyes; a snout which extends beyond the mouth; one dorsal fin; a forked caudal fin; and pelvic, anal and pectorals fins. Lake Simcoe Whitefish measure approximately 381 mm in length.


Distribution and Population

The Lake Simcoe Whitefish is a distinct stock of Lake Whitefish found only in Lake Simcoe. The population of Lake Simcoe Whitefish has been steadily declining. A program to restock the lake has been implemented; eggs of Lake Simcoe Whitefish are collected and artificially fertilized during the spawning season.



The water quality of Lake Simcoe has been deteriorating, and the habitat of the whitefish has been changing. Degradation of spawning sites, siltation, algal growth, accumulation of decaying matter, and reduction of the oxygen content of the water are some of the conditions affecting Lake Simcoe and the fish populations found within it.



Spawning occurs in late October and early November and hatching occurs in late April or early May. Lake Simcoe Whitefish reach sexual maturity between the ages of 4 and 8 years.


The degradation of the habitat of the Lake Simcoe Whitefish due to the eutrophication of the lake is a primary limiting factor. Chemical contaminants, which have negative impacts on the fish, are another important limiting factor. Predation by Rainbow Smelt (which were introduced into Lake Simcoe in 1964) may be affecting the survival of larvae and young whitefish.




PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

3 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the lake whitefish (Lake Simcoe population) Coregonus clupeaformis in Canada (2005)

    Lake whitefish are elongate in form, the greatest body depth occurring at the front of dorsal fin. The mouth is inferior, being distinctly overhung by the snout. Overall colour is silvery and fins are usually clear or lightly pigmented in Great Lakes populations; the fins of more northerly populations are often darker and are usually black tipped. Scales are large and cycloid, numbering 70-97 in the lateral line. Breeding males develop nuptial tubercles on at least 3 rows of scales above the lateral line and on 6 rows below. Genetic, morphological and meristic differences suggest some difference from neighbouring populations; however, this evidence is inconclusive and does not support delineation of this population as a Designatable Unit.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment - Lake Whitefish (2005)

    Designated Threatened in April 1987. Species considered in May 2005 and placed in the Data Deficient category. Last assessment based on an update status report.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.