Rocky Mountain Sculpin (Westslope populations)

Cottus sp.

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

The Rocky Mountain Sculpin is a member of the Cottidae family. Similar to other sculpins, it has a large head, large pectoral fins, and a tapered body from head to tail and an overall small size (maximum 11cm). This species has variable colouring, but typically exhibits a dark green or brown back, and pale lower flanks. Breeding males will develop a yellow or orange edge on their first dorsal fin, and often a black body as well. Non-breeding adults have two dark spots on their first dorsal fin. They are distinguishable from other sculpins by a relatively short head marked by small “bumps,” and a lack of “prickles” on the body.

Habitat

The Rocky Mountain Sculpin is present in both Canada and the United States on each side of the Continental Divide. In Canada, “Westslope” populations are found in nine known locations along the lower 28 km of the Flathead River in southeastern British Columbia (“Eastslope” populations are found in Alberta).

Based largely on data from other populations, this sedentary, nocturnal species is thought to prefer riffle and run habitats with shallow, slow flowing water and rock, rubble, and boulder substrates. Little is known about nocturnal or winter habitats. Nests in other populations of the species are typically found in holes underneath rocks deeper than 40 cm.

Threats

The primary threat to the Rocky Mountain Sculpin is sedimentation from road construction and maintenance, and motorized recreational traffic. Other potential threats include habitat degradation or destruction, including impacts to water flow and water quality from potential infrastructure and resource extraction projects.

Further Information

More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

To find out if this species is protected by provincial laws, consult the Province of British Columbia's website.

Rocky Mountain Sculpin (Westslope populations)

Rocky Mountain Sculpin<br>© J. R. Tomelleri

Illustration of a Rocky Mountain Sculpin - © J. R. Tomelleri

Scientific name: Cottus sp.
SARA Status: Special Concern
COSEWIC Status: Special Concern
Region: British Columbia

Did You Know?

Courtship rituals are thought to involve rapid changes in male colour and acoustic signals.

Image of a Rocky Mountain Sculpin (DFO)

Image of a Rocky Mountain Sculpin (DFO)

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