Cod, an important saltwater food fish. There are about 25 species. The Atlantic cod has a tapering body with a long tail. The mouth and eyes are large, and a barbel (feeler) hangs from the chin. The top part of the fish is usually greenish-brown or reddish, with darker brown spots above; the underside is silvery. The cod averages three feet (90 cm) in length and 10 to 20 pounds (4.5 to 9 kg) in weight, but much larger specimens have been caught. For record catch,
The cod is one of the most important food fish of the world. Its flesh is flaky and rather bland, but has a high nutritive value. Codfish is usually salted and dried for European markets. In North America, it is usually sold fresh, frozen, or canned. Cod is used in such foods as fish chowder and fishcakes.
Cod livers contain large amounts of vitamins A and D. The livers are steam-processed to obtain vitamin-rich cod-liver oil. The oil is used to treat rickets and other conditions resulting from a deficiency of vitamin D. Since about 1930, however, cod-liver oil has been replaced to a great extent by other fish-liver oils. It is still used in the diet of poultry, improving the production and quality of eggs.
The cod thrives in cold waters. It is common in the North Atlantic from Greenland and Norway southward to Cape Hatteras and the Bay of Biscay. A species of Pacific cod is found from Alaska to Oregon. The most famous cod areas in the world are located off the coasts of Norway, Newfoundland, Massachusetts, and the British Isles. Cape Cod received its name because of the abundance of codfish there.
The female cod produces as many as 2,500,000 eggs in a single season. The cod spawns in moderate depths but the eggs rise to the surface and float until they are hatched. The floating eggs are devoured in great quantities by fish and other marine creatures. The young hatch in about 12 days. At the end of a year, they are about 12 inches (30 cm) long.
Cod feed on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and worms. They sometimes travel in large schools.
Cod are usually caught with hook and line. A long line is secured to an anchor and sent to the bottom, where the cod feed. Shorter lines with hooks on them are attached to the long line at regular intervals. Fishermen tend the lines from small boats known as dories. When the catch has been hauled in, the dories are rowed to a larger vessel and unloaded. This mother ship will tow the dories back to port. Cod are also caught by means of hand lines or trap nets.
The major Atlantic cod catches are made by Russia, Canada, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark. Russia and Japan make the largest catches of Pacific cod.
Cod belong to the family Gadidae. The Atlantic cod is Gadus morhua; the Pacific, G. macrocephalus.