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Media opportunity: Dalhousie researchers successfully breed critically endangered, ancient fish species in hopes of bringing it back from the brink of extinction

Posted by Communications and Marketing on June 28, 2022 in News

In the basement of a specialized aquatics facility at Dalhousie University, a team of researchers is working to conserve a fish that dates back 14 million years, exists only in a rural Nova Scotia watershed and is on the brink of extinction.

Biologists and technicians at the Aquatron are breeding and rearing Atlantic whitefish, a critically endangered species close to being wiped out by non-native predators, development and climate change.

The team successfully produced roughly 2,200 juvenile whitefish over the last year and are working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to release them back into a watershed near Bridgewater, N.S., in an effort to bolster the last remaining population of the species.

The work is beginning to pay off. The scientists recently released more than 150 juvenile Atlantic whitefish into the Petite Riviere watershed, the first of about 1,500 young fish that team members plan to release in the area this year.

Paul Bentzen, a Biology professor at Dalhousie, and Aquatron Manager John Batt have been tending to the fish since they arrived at Dal in 2018 and partnered with DFO aquatic science biologist Jeremy Broome, who leads the release efforts.

The team of scientists is available to discuss the project and how the careful, multi-step process of raising and releasing the unique fish species could help lay the foundation for its recovery.


Photos from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Dalhousie University are available here.

Media contacts:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University
Cell: 1-902-220-0491

Department of Fisheries and Oceans


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