Temperate Northern Atlantic Region
The Temperate Northern Atlantic Region comprises the North American and African–European shores of the Atlantic Ocean, along with the Eurasian inland seas. It is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean and on the south by the Tropical Atlantic Region, and includes the Baltic, North, Mediterranean, and Black seas along with the Bay of Biscay and Chesapeake Bay.
Species and subspecies
The Black Sea harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena relicta) occurs within the Black, Azov, and Marmara seas and in the Kerch, Bosphorus, and Dardanelles straits, as well as in the northern Aegean. Up until 1983 it was heavily hunted throughout its range, although the primary threats today are fisheries by-catch and pollution.
The Temperate Northern Atlantic subpopulation of the loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) breeds along the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean basin, with just a few nests recorded in the western basin. Its marine habitats extend throughout the entire Mediterranean and much of the North Atlantic north to the British Isles and Newfoundland.
The sailfin roughshark (Oxynotus paradoxus) is an uncommon bottom shark from the deeper coastal waters of western Europe and north-western Africa that may be threatened by by-catch.
The great lanternshark (Etmopterus princeps) is a small, little-known species from the north-western, north-eastern, and eastern Atlantic, where it is potentially threatened by bycatch.
Linneaus’ angelshark (Squatina squatina) is a bottomdwelling species that was historically widespread in the coastal waters of the north-eastern Atlantic from Scandinavia to North-western Africa, including the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean Sea. It has been greatly depleted due to overfishing and by-catch and has disappeared from many parts of its former range.
The Madeira skate (Raja maderensis) appears to be confined to the coastal waters of the Madeira Islands. The undulate skate (R. undulata) is found patchily in the continental and insular waters of the eastern North Atlantic from the British Isles to western Africa and in the Mediterranean Sea. Both are threatened by fisheries by-catch.
The smooth skate (Malacoraja senta) occurs in coastal waters of the western Atlantic from the banks off Newfoundland and the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada to the north-eastern United States (New Jersey). It is threatened mainly by by-catch.
The thorny skate (Amblyraja radiata) is a bottom-dwelling species from the northern Atlantic, ranging from Hudson Bay, northern and eastern Canada, Svalbard, Greenland, and Iceland to the English Channel and parts of the North and Baltic seas in the west, and to the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States in the east. It is threatened mainly by by-catch in some areas.
Three rough skates (Leucoraja) are threatened by overfishing. The winter rough skate (L. ocellata) occurs in disjunct concentrations along the coastal north-western Atlantic from Labrador to the south-eastern United States. The sandy rough skate (L. circularis) and the Shagreen rough skate (L. fullonica) are both found on the continental and insular shelves of the north-eastern Atlantic from Scandinavia and Iceland to Madeira, the western Mediterranean, and off the north-eastern coast of Africa.
Linnaeus’ skate (Dipturus batis), at almost 3 m in length the largest of all skates, historically ranged throughout the continental and insular shelves of the north-eastern Atlantic. Centuries of overfishing have seriously impacted the species, which has disappeared from many areas. Additionally, its slow rate of maturity makes it difficult to replace its numbers.
The Macaronesian grouper (Mycteroperca fusca) is found in the waters of the Azores, Madeira, Canary, and Cape Verde island groups, where it is heavily fished.
The North Atlantic sea bream (Dentex dentex) is a predatory species from the continental and insular shelves of the Mediterranean Sea, the western Black Sea, and the eastern Atlantic from the British Isles to north-western Africa. Of high commercial value, its slow reproductive and growth rates make it vulnerable to overfishing.
The Acadian redfish (Sebastes fasciatus) is a deep-water species from the north-western Atlantic, ranging from western Greenland and Iceland to eastern North America as far south as Virginia. A highly prized food fish, it suffered considerable declines during the late twentieth century due to overfishing but has largely recovered due to conservation measures.
The Messina scorpionfish (Scorpaenodes arenai) is known only from a few specimens collected off the Azores and from the Strait of Messina in the central Mediterranean.
The blueback shad (Alosa aestivalis) is a type of herring that lives in both freshwater and saltwater habitats along the eastern coast of North America from Nova Scotia to Florida, with introduced populations in a number of reservoirs within several states and in the Tennessee River drainage. The species has undergone significant declines in recent decades due to habitat degradation, overfishing, and predation by introduced fish bass.
The green wrasse (Labrus viridis) lives in the coastal waters of the eastern Atlantic from Portugal to Morocco as well as in the Mediterranean and Black seas. It has declined in many areas due to overfishing.
The black fish (Tautoga onitis) is a type of wrasse confined to coastal waters of the western Atlantic from eastern Canada (Nova Scotia) to the south-eastern United States (South Carolina). It was subject to an intense recreational fishery during the late twentieth century, during which it declined substantially.
The Spanish toothcarp (Aphanius iberus) is confined to coastal Spain and Algeria.
The yellowtail flounder (Pleuronectes ferrugineus) is confined to a small area of the western coastal Atlantic from southern Labrador to Chesapeake Bay. It is vulnerable to overfishing and by-catch.
The Azores rockling (Gaidropsarus granti) is a rare species found patchily in the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. It is threatened by pollution and fishing activities.
The roundnose grenadier (Coryphaenoides rupestris) is a large deep-sea fish that still occurs over much of the North Atlantic, but is nevertheless threatened by overfishing. The roughlip grenadier (C. thelestomus) is known only from the waters around Madeira and the Canary Islands, but is not commercially targeted.
The North Atlantic codling (Lepidion eques) is a naturally rare species that occurs in deep waters across the North Atlantic from northwards of the Bay of Biscay (west of the British Isles), along the Iceland–Faroe Ridge to northern Labrador and the Grand Banks. It is potentially threatened by by-catch.
The Portuguese footballfish (Himantolophus compressus) is a type of deep-sea anglerfish is known only from a single, now-lost specimen collected off the coast of Portugal.
Three deep-sea anglerfish of the genus Linophryne are naturally rare. Regan’s bearded seadevil (L. polypogon) is known only from a single specimen collected off Madeira during the 1920s. Maul’s bearded seadevil (L. maderensis) is known only from three specimens collected off Madeira. Bertelsen’s bearded seadevil (L. sexfilis) is known only from a small number of specimens collected off Madeira and the Canary Islands.
Dreamers (Oneirodes) are a large group of deep-sea anglerfish. All are naturally rare, although it is uncertain whether they are actually threatened. The nightmare dreamer (O. epithales) is known only from a single specimen found in the north-western Atlantic, approximately 800 km south of Newfoundland. Post’s dreamer (O. posti) is known from three specimens collected in the mid-northern Atlantic. Clarke’s dreamer (O. clarkei) is known only from the waters of the Madeira Islands.
The abyssal snailfish (Paraliparis abyssorum) and the bipolar snailfish (P. bipolaris) are both known only from a few specimens collected from deep waters off the southwestern coast of Ireland. The spiny-scaled snailfish (P. hystrix) is known only from a few deep-water localities west of the British Isles.
The finely speckled snailfish (Careproctus aciculipunctatus) and Merret’s snailfish (C. merretti) are each known only from a single specimen collected from the Porcupine Basin off the south-western coast of Ireland.
Hartel’s dwarf snailfish (Psednos harteli) is known only from a single specimen collected from the north-western Atlantic off Nova Scotia. Andriashev’s dwarf snailfish (P. andriashevi) is known only from a single specimen collected west of Ireland. The Iberian dwarf snailfish (P. spirohira) is known only from a single specimen collected west of the Iberian Peninsula.
The darkflank pipefish (Syngnathus taenionotus) and the narrow-snouted pipefish (S. tenuirostris) are both found disjunctly in brackish habitats within the northern Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmara, and the Black Sea.
The Iberian pipefish (Minyichthys sentus) is known only from few specimens collected from the Atlantic coast of southern Spain, the Canary Islands, and the Mediterranean near Gibraltar. It was last reported in 1970.
The spotted pipefish (Nerophis maculatus) is found very disjunctly in seagrass meadows of the north-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, where it is threatened by coastal development.
Lophelia’s hagfish (Eptatretus lopheliae) is an eel-like species known only from a few specimens collected and observed in the western Atlantic off the south-eastern United States (North Carolina and South Carolina).
Bacallado’s moray eel (Gymnothorax bacalladoi) is known only from three specimens collected from the Canary Islands and Madeira.
The blackspot conger eel (Paraconger macrops) is confined to shallow coastal waters of the Madeira Islands and the Azores in the eastern Atlantic.
Parfait’s blind cusk-eel (Barathronus parfaiti) is known only from two disjunct deep-water localities in the northcentral and north-eastern Atlantic. The many-toothed blind cusk-eel (B. multidens) is known only from three disjunct deep-water localities in the western and eastern North Atlantic.
Zugmayer’s blind cusk-eel (Sciadonus cryptophthalmus) is known only from a single specimen collected off the coast of north-western Spain in the early twentieth century.
The singing viviparous brotula (Melodichthys hadrocephalus) is a type of cusk-eel known only from a single specimen collected off the coast of France.
The Atlantic false brotula (Leucobrotula adipata) is known only from seven specimens collected off the coast of western Europe.
The Arctic eelpout (Lycenchelys platyrhina) is known only by a single specimen collected from deep waters between Jan Mayen Island and Iceland.
The North Atlantic Ridge
The North Atlantic Ridge is the northern part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the longest mountain range in the world, extending as it does almost discontinuously through the northern and southern hemispheres. Although mostly an underwater feature, portions of it have enough elevation to extend above sea level as islands. It includes Jan Mayen Island, Iceland, and the Azores.
The Azores dogfish (Scymnodalatias garricki) is known only from a specimen collected from a seamount on the North Atlantic Ridge, and another collected south of the Azores.
The North Atlantic Ridge snailfish (Paraliparis nigellus) is known only from three specimens collected from two localities.
The Icelandic viviparous brotula (Bythites islandicus) is known only from a handful of specimens collected off the south-eastern coast of Iceland.
The Seawarte Seamounts
The Seawarte Seamounts are a group of extinct submarine volcanoes located at the western edge of the Madeira Abyssal Plain. It includes the Great Meteor Seamount, the largest in the North Atlantic, whose shallow and flat summit suggests that it may have emerged above the surface sometime in the past.
The Great Meteor dragonet (Protogrammus sousai) is known only from a few specimens collected in the 1960s.
The Great Meteor conger eel (Gnathophis codoniphorus) is known only from the Great Meteor Seamount.
The Azores Plateau
The Azores Plateau is an oceanic plateau encompassing the Azores Archipelago.
The Azores scorpionfish (Scorpaena azorica) is a rare species known only from the waters off Terceiera Island. The Azores eel-slickhead (Leptoderma macrophthalmum) is known only from a single specimen collected north of the Azores.
The Madeira Abyssal Plain
The Madeira Abyssal Plain is located at the centre and deepest part of the Canary Basin, parallel to the North Atlantic Ridge.
The Madeira wolftrap angler (Lasiognathus amphirhamphus) is known only from a single specimen collected from the Madeira Abyssal Plain.
The North Sea
The North Sea is a marginal sea of the North Atlantic Ocean, located on the continental shelf between the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.
The houting whitefish (Coregonus oxyrinchus) was a brackish-water species native to the southern North Sea basin, from where it annually made its way up the Schelde, Rhine, and Meuse drainages to spawn. It was last recorded in 1940, and is believed to have gone extinct owing to pollution.
The Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a marginal brackish sea of the North Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, north-eastern Germany, Poland, and Russia.
The maraene whitefish (Coregonus maraena) remains widespread in the Baltic Sea as well as in the inflowing rivers and even a few landlocked lakes within the basin. However, owing to overfishing and pollution there are now few natural populations. The species’ apparent abundance is merely a reflection of the massive stocking programmes undertaken annually by Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia, without which it would quickly decline.
The Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay (Golfe de Gascogne in French/Golfo de Vizcaya in Spanish) is located along the western coast of France and the northern coast of Spain.
Denton’s rattail (Kumba dentoni) is known only from a single specimen collected from deep waters of the Bay of Biscay in the early 1970s.
The Biscay snaggletooth (Borostomias abyssorum) is a type of barbelled dragonfish known only from a single specimen collected from deep waters of the Bay of Biscay in the late nineteenth century.
The Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean is connected to the Atlantic Ocean but is almost completely surrounded by land. It is bordered to the north by Europe, to the east by Asia, and to the south by Africa. The Sea of Marmara is sometimes considered a part of the Mediterranean Sea, whereas the adjoining Black Sea is not. The 163-km-long Suez Canal connects it artificially to the Red Sea, resulting in serious problems with invasive species. Pollution and marine debris are another major concern. The Mediterranean has an average depth of 1500 m, with the deepest recorded point being 5267 m in the Calypso Deep.
The Maltese rough skate (Leucoraja melitensis) is confined to coastal waters of the south-central Mediterranean, where it has been extirpated from many areas by extensive trawling.
The rough skate (Raja radula) occurs in coastal waters throughout the Mediterranean, although primarily in the western region and around the Balearic Islands. It is absent from the Black Sea, and reports from Portuguese waters and the northern coast of Morocco are likely misidentifications of other skate species. It is commonly taken as by-catch.
The Ionian barracuda (Sphyraena intermedia) is known only from the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea.
The North African shad (Alosa algeriensis) is a migratory marine and freshwater species with a small range along the south-western coast of the Mediterranean. Separate landlocked populations occur in Lake Ichkeul, Tunisia, and in some man-made lakes in Sardinia. It has declined in many areas due to habitat destruction and degradation.
Sanzo’s deepwater cardinalfish (Microichthys sanzoi) is known only from the south-eastern coast of Sicily.
Ben-Tuvia’s goby (Didogobius bentuvii) is known only from a single specimen collected off the mouth of the Rubin River, coastal Israel, in the 1960s.
Schmidt’s goby (Gobius strictus) is known only from a small number of specimens collected across the Mediterranean, which may have been misidentified.
Tortonese’s goby (Pomatoschistus tortonesei) is known only from a few coastal lagoons in Sicily, Tunisia, and western Libya, where it is restricted to seagrass habitat.
Facciolà’s morid cod (Rhynchogadus hepaticus) is known only from deep waters in the Gulf of Naples, the Strait of Messina, the Catalan Sea, and off the Balearic Islands.
The Iberian pencil smelt (Nansenia iberica) is known only from four specimens collected from a small area of the western Mediterranean, between the Balearic Islands and the eastern coast of Spain.
Muriel’s snailfish (Paraliparis murieli) is known for certain only from a single specimen collected off the eastern coast of Spain.
The Sicilian snake-eel (Ophichthus maculatus) is known only from a specimen collected in 1810 from the waters near Sicily.
Fowler’s shortfaced eel (Panturichthys fowleri) was long known only from a single specimen collected off Israel in the early 1950s. In more recent years it has been found in the northern Aegean Sea and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean coast.
The Black Sea
The Black Sea is a marginal sea located between the Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Western Asia. It is supplied by a number of major rivers such as the Danube, Dniper, and Don, and is connected to the Mediterranean by the Sea of Marmara. The shallow Sea of Azov is connected to it to the north. The maximum depth is 2212 m.
The Pontic shad (Alosa immaculata) inhabits the Black and Azov seas and possibly the Sea of Marmara as well, from where it migrates up rivers to spawn. It is threatened by overfishing, pollution, and dam construction.
The thickly snouted pipefish (Syngnathus variegatus) and Schmidt’s pipefish (S. schmidti) are both found in coastal areas of the Black Sea basin, where they have suffered declines due to loss of habitat and pollution.
Anthropogenic effects on the fauna
In recent historical time (i.e. since ad 1500), the Temperate Northern Atlantic Region has lost at least 1 species of vertebrate (a marine fish). In addition, there are 79 species/1 subspecies currently threatened with extinction (that is to say, either Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List, as well as certain forms either listed as Data Deficient or Not Assessed but which are clearly at some risk of extinction). Of these, 1 subspecies is a mammal, and 79 species are marine fish.