Esox lucius, Northern Pike

Georgian Bay Forever is working with Dr. Kevin McCann of the University of Guelph, and the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding to catalogue all the aquatic organisms in Georgian Bay. This will help with measuring the impact of environmental stressors like climate change and human activity such as shoreline development as well as aiding in future conservation efforts, ecosystem monitoring, forensics, and tracking invasives. All the specimens collected and identified will also contribute to the International Barcode of Life , a multi-nation effort to catalogue the world's biodiversity. Here is one example from Georgian Bay's Aquatic Species Library.


    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Actinopterygii
    Order: Esociformes
    Family: Esocidae
    Genus: Esox
    Species: Esox lucius

Identification - Linnaean Taxonomy
A branch of science, taxonomy, allocates living creatures into different categories or classifications in order to provide a way for humans to more easily understand living things. Classifications are characterized by shared features. Carl Linneas categorized living things into a system called Linnaean Taxonomy, and a way of naming them called binomial nomenclature, which gives an organism a genus and species name. For example:
1. Rock Bass – common name, and commonly found in Georgian Bay
Linneas categorized living things into a system called Linnaean Taxonomy, and a way of naming them called binomial nomenclature, which gives an organism a genus and species name. For example:
1. Rock Bass – common name, and commonly found in Georgian Bay
Genus – Amblophites
Species – rupestris
Scientific name – Ambloplites rupestris
2. Shadow Bass – common name, found in Southern US like Louisiana
Genus – Ambloplites
Species – ariommus
Scientific name – Ambloplites ariommus

The Linnaean classification system, specified in Carl Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae (1735) divided living things through a process of narrowing categorization. This methodology evolved into the narrow classification system that is used today, and noted below.

From broadest – (1) Kingdom (2) Phylum or Division (3) Class (4) Order(5) Family(6) Genus(7) Species– to specific

A lurking predator – AMBUSH!

Northern Pike
Esox lucius or the Northern Pike is an aggressive feeder that likes to lie in wait staying very still for along period of time, and then striking with short bursts of rapid acceleration. This pike is quite different from some other predatory fish like the perch which chase down their prey. The swimming character of the Northern Pike has been prized by fisherman for its determination and bursts of high energy. The fish move in an S shape to accelerate, and in a kind of a C to slow down quickly.

These fast start movements, which other fish usually use to escape, is used primarily to catch mostly lots of small fish primarily Yellow Perch, sunfishes, minnows and suckers. However, these large jawed fish will also consume frogs, crayfish, waterfowl, rodents and other small mammals. The fish is also a cannibal - known to eat its own, and particularly the young which some theorize is why the females lay so many eggs.

The Pike eggs and new hatchlings have a high infant mortality rate - often falling prey to larger pike, perch, minnows, waterfowl, water mammals and even some insects. If the Northern Pike makes it to adulthood, its biggest worries are in the Great Lakes are the invasive sea lamphrey and humans. Spawning adults, in shallows, can be vulnerable to bears, dogs and other large carnivores.

Northern Pike measure
As part of the Pike family (Esocidae), Northern Pike are often mistaken for its usually larger cousin the Muskellunge, which does not have the light markings on a dark body and has fewer than six sensory pores on the underside of each side of the lower jaw. Mature Northern Pikes are olive green in colour with light bar like spots and few to many dark spots on the fins. They have with a white to yellow belly. Younger pikes have yellow stripes on a green body which divide into light spots as they grow while the green turns to olive.

And how did the Esox lucius become commonly known as a Northern pike? Because it looks like the old Middle Ages weapon or long pole known as the Pike.

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Sources and acknowledgements

Thank you to the sources for information in this post.

Note - We try to bring together information to help understand this species. We do use sources to provide information and visuals. We do our best to attribute properly and try very hard to get it right. If we have made an inadvertent mistake around recognizing someone’s work or misinterpreting the work, please let us know via email at communications and I will correct.