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Encyclopedia > Wolffish
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Anarhichadidae
Genus: Anarrhichas
Species: A. lupus
Binomial name
Anarrhichas lupus
Linnaeus, 1758

The Seawolf (Anarrhichas lupus), also known as the Sea Cat or Wolf-fish, is a marine fish, the largest of the family Anarhichadidae. In spite of its large size, it has retained the bodily form and general external characteristics of the small blennies. Its body is long, subcylindrical in front, compressed in the caudal portion, smooth and slippery, the rudimentary scales being embedded and almost hidden in the skin. An even dorsal fin extends the whole length of the back, and a similar fin from the vent to the caudal fin, as in blennies. The pectorals are large and rounded, the pelvic fins entirely absent.

Its dentition distinguishes the Seawolf from all the other members of the family. Both jaws are armed in front with strong conical teeth, and on the sides with two series of large tubercular molars, a biserial band of similar molars occupying the middle of the palate. By these teeth the Seawolf is able to crush the hard carapaces or shells of the crustaceans and molluscs on which it feeds; The rocks between which it hides are usually strewn about with the broken shells of its prey. That it uses the teeth as a weapon of defence and deserves the character of ferocity generally attributed to it would appear to be rather questionable. The teeth wear down because of excessive grinding, so a new set grows in annually. In the interim, however, it is supposed that the fish will fast for months while it waits for the new teeth to grow in.

Seawolves are inhabitants of the northern seas of both hemispheres, being common on the coasts of Scandinavia and North Britain, and two in the seas round Iceland and Greenland. Two related species occur in the corresponding latitudes of the North Pacific. They attain to a length exceeding two meters, and in the north are esteemed as food, both fresh and preserved. The oil extracted from the liver is said to be in quality equal to the best cod-liver oil.


The name Seawolf has been used for four submarines of the United States Navy:

  • USS Seawolf (SS-28), was commissioned in 1913 and ran aground and was lost at sea in 1920.
  • USS Seawolf (SS-197), was commissioned in 1939 and lost at sea in 1944.
  • USS Seawolf (SSN-575), commissioned in 1957, was the second nuclear submarine in the world, Like the Nautilus, SSN-571, it was fully armed but primarily experimental.
  • USS Seawolf (SSN-21) is a United States Navy nuclear attack submarine, commissioned in 1997. Its motto is Cave Lupum ("beware of the wolf").


The Sea-Wolf is a novel by Jack London.

  Results from FactBites:
Wolffish (2727 words)
In the common wolffish the central series, which is the longest of the three, originates a very little in advance of the outer series, and it extends rearward noticeably farther.
The wolffish is also known to feed on large hermit crabs, on ordinary crabs, and other crustaceans, on starfish, and on sea urchins, a quart of the latter having been taken from one caught at Eastport.
Wolffish are not taken in commercial quantities either to the westward of Nantucket Shoals, or [page 507] on the southwestern part of Georges Bank.
A/F Protein Inc. - Wolffish (383 words)
The Atlantic wolffish is a solitary species, commonly inhabiting deep water along slopes, and not generally given to long migrations.
While wolffish may live alone for much of the time, spring inshore migrations in preparation for summer spawning have been reported in a variety of areas eg.
Wolffish antifreeze protein genes are primarily organized as tandem repeats that each contain two genes in inverted orientation.
  More results at FactBites »



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