American Oceans
Atlantic Cod, Gadus morhua

Atlantic Cod

Gadus Morhua

Atlantic Cod can be found in the Northwest Atlantic from Greenland to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Cod is most common in US waters on Georges Bank and in the western Gulf of Maine. Cod is an emblematic New England fish, yet Atlantic cod stocks in our region have plummeted in recent years. Conservationists are striving to repopulate this area.

The Atlantic cod and its relatives are the only fish species with three separate dorsal fins and two unique anal fins (on the sides) (along the ventral surface). Although Atlantic cod spend the majority of their time on or near the seafloor, they are occasionally seen foraging higher up in the water column.

They consume a wide range of prey, including bony fish, American lobsters, and other invertebrates. Adult Atlantic cod are only eaten by huge sharks, while juveniles are eaten by a range of medium-sized predators, and cannibalistic adults are known to devour them.

cod swimming

Female Atlantic cod release eggs and males release sperm into the water column above the seafloor at the same time, a phenomenon known as broadcast spawning. This strategy increases the chances of successfully fertilizing eggs and preventing fertilized eggs from being devoured by egg predators near the seafloor.

Researchers believe that dominant males get exclusive (or nearly exclusive) rights to spawn with available females despite the fact that they form vast reproductive groupings.

The Atlantic cod is one of the most prolific bony fish species, with females capable of releasing hundreds of millions of eggs over the course of their lives. Only a small percentage of these children grow up to be adults.

Atlantic Cod Facts

  • Atlantic cod has a lifespan of over 20 years.
  • They can reach 51 inches in length and weigh 77 pounds.
  • They can reproduce when they are between 12 and 16 inches long, which is when they are 2 to 3 years old.
  • From winter until early spring, cod spawn near the ocean floor.
  • When larger females spawn, they can generate 3 to 9 million eggs.
  • They prey on a range of invertebrates and fish in the bottom ocean community.

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