This Arctic char has a silver coloring on its sides and stomach. It was probably caught in or near saltwater.
Image by Saibling
Char are closely related to salmon, although they are technically a member of the trout family. Like salmon, Arctic char can live in fresh and salt water during different periods of their life cycle. Also like salmon, some char populations live only in fresh water and don’t migrate in order to spawn (reproduce). They do not grow as large as most salmon, and while salmon die after spawning once, arctic char can live to reproduce multiple times.
Where do Arctic char live?
Arctic char have circumpolar distribution (see map below). In the Northwest Territories they live along the coast near large rivers and around the many Arctic islands off the coast of the mainland. They can also be found in Great Bear Lake.
Char living in saltwater usually are silver in color, while fish living in fresh water develop deep red coloring on their sides and stomachs. When char leave the salty ocean to migrate upstream for spawning, they turn the same color as the fish that live in fresh water year round.
What do char eat?
Char mainly eat other small fish, crustaceans, and insects. They can live for more than twenty years!
These fish were caught in a creek near the mouth of the Yukon River in Alaska. Note the deep red coloring on their sides and bellies. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Jim Gaither
This map shows the circumpolar regions where Arctic char are known to live. Hugo Ahlenius, Nordpil
The Fisherman’s Field Guide to the freshwater and saltwater Gamefish of North America. Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1977.