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Pygmy Whitefish

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Illustration of the Pygmy WhitefishPygmy Whitefish are typically found in the deep parts of deep, cold lakes and in some fast, cold montane streams. Their distribution and preference for cold water suggests that pygmy whitefish are most likely a glacial relict species. In lakes, pygmy whitefish are usually found at depths of less than 6 metres. 

There are only a small number of deep, cold lakes in Alberta in which one could expect to find Pygmy Whitefish: Waterton Lake, in which they have been found, Cold Lake and Lake Athabasca. There is no record of pygmy whitefish from Cold Lake in spite of considerable fishing efforts over several years.  Records exist from the deep, eastern end of Lake Athabasca in Saskatchewan thus, there is a reasonable expectation that they also occur in the Alberta portion of the lake. Lake Athabasca is not as deep on the Alberta side, which may limit suitable habitat for Pygmy Whitefish. In the upper Athabasca River drainage pygmy whitefish have been found in Solomon Creek where it drains into the Athabasca River northwest of Hinton, in the Snake Indian River near where it drains into the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park and in the Athabasca River between the Snaring and Snake Indian Rivers. Most recently Pygmy Whitefish were found in the Athabasca River at Whitecourt. 

Reprinted from Alberta Wildlife Status Report No. 27 (2000), with permission from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

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