Arctic Grayling: Thymallus articus
Growing to 30 inches (76 cm) and a weight of six pounds these is one of the most important sport fishes in northern Canada and Alaska. The large fins of the males have many uses. They are used to intimidate rivals and attract females. Males actually fold this fin over a receptive female’s back, drifting alongside her.
Grayling are huge scavengers, eating everything from roe and fry to carcasses from animals as big as the caribou, which have fallen into the water. There is a reason for their voracious appetite. Unlike many other fishes, these stay in cold northern lakes year round. This means at least two thirds of the graylings time is spent at the bottom of frozen waters. Adapting to low oxygen levels, they barely move and their blood temperatures stay just above freezing. The fish start becoming active again when temperatures reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Arctic Grayling were an important food source for native Alaskans like the Tlingit and further north the Inuit.