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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Lake Whitefish (Lake Simcoe Population) in Canada

Distribution

The lake whitefish is widely distributed throughout Canada and the northern United States (Scott and Crossman 1973). The Lake Simcoe lake whitefish is a distinct stock found in Lake Simcoe, Ontario (44º25’N, 79º20’W). Lake Simcoe is the fifth largest inland lake in Ontario with a surface area of 725 km² and a perimeter of 231 km. The main basin of the lake including Kempenfelt Bay has a maximum depth of 41 m and is classified as mesotrophic while Cook Bay, with a maximum depth of 15 m, is considered eutrophic. Lake Simcoe is located less than 100 km north of Toronto and is part of the Trent-Severn waterway which connects Bay of Quinte on Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay of Lake Huron (Figure 2). Geographic barriers and a series of locks prevent migration of Lake Simcoe lake whitefish into lakes Huron and Ontario.

During the early 1980s, when population levels were low and recruitment problems continued to limit natural reproduction, Lake Simcoe lake whitefish were stocked into Upper Roslyn Lake (49º15’N, 87º29’W) in an attempt to maintain the genetic strain. The status of the population in Upper Roslyn Lake remains unknown and needs to be determined.

Figure 2. Lake Simcoe, including tributaries and selected urban centres.

Figure 2.  Lake Simcoe, including tributaries and selected urban centres.