Atlantic Cod

Gadus morhua

Picture of an atlantic cod in a tank
Image by The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk on Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Physical: Atlantic cod is a large heavy-bodied fish with a blunt snout and a catfish-like barbel on the lower jaw. They range in color from yellow-green to red and olive, with speckled patterns around their body except for the belly, which is lighter in color. They also have a lateral line which runs horizontally across the side. Adults can grow up to 51 in (129.5 cm).

Habitat: Atlantic cod range from Greenland to North Carolina, found from nearshore coastal waters out to the continental shelf. In the US, they’re most common in Georges Bank and the western Gulf of Maine. Their preferred habitat is cold water near the ocean floor, in areas with rocky slopes and coarse sediment. Cod will migrate between feeding, overwintering, and spawning areas. Juvenile cod are occasionally found in Barnegat Bay.

Feeding: Atlantic cod are omnivorous and eat a variety of fish and invertebrates. They are one of the top predators in their environment. Larval cod eat krill, copepods, and small crustaceans and fishes.

Breeding: The spawning season lasts from winter to early spring. Adult cod will form large schools and gather in spawning sites offshore. Female cod can lay anywhere from 2.9 to 9 million eggs.

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