North Island Explorer: Guide to North Vancouver Island



Title: Freshwater Sculpins on Vancouver island




































A prickly Sculpin

Photo 1: A freshwater sculpin from the Lower Campbell Lake.


Prickly Sculpin: Cottus asper

Coastrange Sculpin: Cottus aleuticus


Freshwater sculpins are common in the lakes around Vancouver Island. The two main species that are encountered are the Coastrange Sculpin and the Prickly Sculpin. They are very similar, so identification is not always an easy task. However, studies have shown that tentative identification can be based on habitat separation. Prickly Sulpins prefer the relatively slow moving water of lakes to the fast flowing water of rivers and streams, which the Coastrange Sculpins prefer.  More precise identification can be made be observing physical features. Visit the Integrated land Management Bureau website for a key on freshwater sculpin identification.


Prickly Sculpins can grow as large as 30cm, but most adults average between 10-15 cms. They spawn in late winter and early spring with males guarding the eggs. Research has shown that the benthic dwelling Prickly Sculpins play an important part in the dispersion of Western Floater freshwater mussels.






Refereneces: Habitat Separation of Prickly Sculpin and Coastrange Sculpin