Cod and Relatives General
Archeological remains identifying human use found cod and relatives from Oregon to Alaska .Cod has been reported by ethnographers as available year round but not caught during stormy weather, which prevents fishing in open boats [3, 12, 20, 29]. Northwest Coast Indigenous Peoples are reported to have caught the fish in coastal waters, the Coast Tsimshian caught them in deep water off Porcher, Dundas and Bank Islands and a number of other cultures caught them in deep seas [1, 4, 7, 14, 26, 34]. They typically jigged them with a lure and hook, but they also used traps, and hook and line [1-3, 6, 7, 9, 12, 18-22]. Northern cultures of Alaska, Greenland and Labrador used a jig made of a bone pole with several hooks and was attached to a soap-stone sinker . Kyuquot men used speed or row boats and a simple line and lure; but in August, when cod were plentiful, women also went in speedboats and jigged for the fish . The Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) are reported to use a hook and line, with kelpfish and perch as bait. The hook was a pointed-angled hook with a spruce root shank fastened to a barbless bone or hardwood point with the aid of nettle-fibre rope; the leader was made of nettle-fibre, and the main line was made of braided long kelp stem. An oval stone sinker was fastened where the line joined the leader, and a cod stomach float was fastened so that the hook floated at the proper depth. Usually, only a kelpfish “at the end of a line with no hook” was used, because the cod, which swallowed it “would not easily let go” and could be hauled up and clubbed or speared. A shimmering stone attached to a line or with a live anchovy or herring tied to a line was used . Kelpfish and perch could be used as bait. The hook was a pointed-angled hook with a spruce root shank fastened to a barbless bone or hardwood point with the aid of nettle-fibre rope, the leader was made of nettle-fibre, and the main line was made of braided long kelp stem. An oval stone sinker was fastened where the line joined the leader, and a cod stomach float was fastened so that the hook floated at the proper depth . The Nootka and Nootka-Kwakiutl used a line made of whale sinew and the hook consisting of a straight bit of hardwood at the bottom of which was a sharpened piece of bone attached using thread or whale sinew [18, 19]. The Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka’wakw) used hooks attached to kelp lines. The hook had a sinker and the upper portion of the hook was kept floating with a bladder or wood float, and cuttlefish was used as bait . The North Pacific Coast Indigenous People used a line and a sharp-angled codfish hook while the Haida of British Columbia used a hook and line, each line having up to a hundred hooks attached to it [12, 24]. Central and Northern Nootka fishermen angled them using a straight-shanked hook with the bait fastened to the hook with spruce root rope . In ancient times, the Tlingit used a wood hook with a bone barb, the hook being attached to a rawhide, cedar bark or kelp line. One hook or a score of hooks was/were connected to a mainline and to each end of the line they attached heavy rocks for sinkers. They lowered this line using another line, at the top of which was a distended seal’s bladder to indicate where the line was down. The hooks connected to the main line were baited with clams or pieces of fish and were transported out to sea near sand and mud banks, where the fisherman lowered the main line and kept them there for half a day before drawing them in. When the fish were brought to the surface, they were clubbed with a decorated fish club and thrown into in a big basket in the middle of the canoe. Single hook fishing was done close to shore, and required more people. Usually all the men of a house group travelled to small islands and rocks to set up camp. These trips were dangerous and stories were told of narrow escapes and supernatural aid given to the fishermen. By the 1970s, they were using steel hooks and cotton lines .
The Coast Salish used many techniques to catch cod. In shallow banks, they used u- or v- shaped hooks made of hemlock root or yew wood. The hooks were often attached in twos, one at each end of a slim rod to which a main fishing line was fastened at the centre. When fishing in deep waters, they used a shuttlecock lure with a weight attached; the lure was lowered to the bottom and let loose, causing it to whirl to the surface, attracting the fish to follow, where they were speared . The Coast Salish also used a halibut hook and gaff to capture cod, first using a lure to surface the fish. The halibut hook was a u-shaped and made of bent yew, crab apple, hardhack or other types of hardwood, and was fastened to a line to which a sinker had been attached. The sinker was usually a smooth stone enclosed in a wrapping of cherry bark. The lure was a double-cocked spinner that looked like a shuttlecock and it was forced close to the sea bottom using a long pole. When the pole was released, the spinner rotated up luring the cod. Tomcod was an effective lure for cod. The inside of a tomcod was packed with pebbles by the fisherman, and this bait was attached to a line and when the cod swallowed it, the cod was hauled to the top and speared. This spear had barbless foreshafts fastened to a main shaft .
The Central and Northern Nootka caught cod in communal codfish grounds, but the majority of the fishermen did not disclose their manner of locating the better fishing grounds . The Coast Tsimshian listed offshore cod banks as lineage property (i.e. Tsimshian lineages possessed ownership rights to fish from “geographically defined properties”). Lineage heads had the power and made use of this power to designate specific regions as exclusive and transfer them as “private property to successors” .
The flesh was typically boiled, broiled, and roasted for immediate use and dried for later use, usually for winter [4, 9, 11, 19, 26, 27]. Cultures of the circumpolar area are reported to have eaten the flesh, roe and eyes of cod . The Southern Alaskan and Northern British Columbian cultures held cod in high esteem; the Kyuquot preferred cod to make “fish and chips”, though they sometimes smoked it [20, 25]. The Coast Salish barbecued or baked it after cleaning it, the cleaning process depending on the method of cooking. If it was to be barbecued, the head and tail were removed, followed by the backbone, which was removed by slitting the flesh. The head and tail were reserved to make soup including fish chowder, while the entrails were thrown into the sea. If it were to be baked, the entrails, roe and tail were removed. The entrails were discarded, while the tail and roe were reserved. The head was not necessarily severed as the baked cheeks and eyes were treats. All sizes of cod were barbecued using a split-pole rack, which was laid over green cedar crosspieces, which at times were soaked in water to decrease the burning. The cross pieces needed to be immature green cedar because mature cedar burns too readily. The split-pole rack was made of a maple sapling pole because maple is hard, and moderately heat resistant. The sapling was split down the centre to make the rack, hence the name “split-pole rack”. Cedar sticks were placed on one portion of the split, the cod was placed on them and other cedar sticks were laid over the fish. Finally, the ends of the pole were bound with cedar bark or nettle fibre to hold the cod in place, and the rack was then angled over a fire. If the cod was large, it was cut in pieces (with the head and tail removed), put on iron wood skewers angled over a fire and barbecued until done. If it was small, it was barbecued whole on a large barbecue rack made from wood poles and sticks. This rack was in the shape of a ladder, made of ironwood and was anchored over the ground at each corner with an X-shaped post. “Large” cod could be baked in a pit fire, which was a fire made in a pit or trench excavated from beach gravel. Into the pit, rocks were added and then a fire started using cedar tinder. When the fire was burning well, alder was added. The coals formed were laid out on the rocks to heat them and once the heat was intense, the coals and some of the hot rocks were laid to one side. The cod was wrapped in wet seaweed and leaves of the iron wood bush; the latter gave flavor to the cod. The encased fish was placed on the remaining hot rocks and coals, which had been topped with seaweed. More seaweed was used to cover the encased fish and the coals and hot rocks that had been previously set aside were placed on this layer of seaweed. Gravel was heaped over everything and the cod was baked until the flesh was white and flaky. To make cod chowder, the head was added to soup along with any vegetables on hand. Dried seaweed was usually added to thicken and salt the soup .
Central and Northern Nootka dried the fish for later use by cutting it, spreading it on racks outside for about one to two days, then laying it outside on clean gravel. The majority of families stored some of the dried codfish for women to consume during menstruation and following childbirth. This dried fish was usually tenderized on a board using a club and boiled in a wood box with hot stones scooped from a fire using tongs . Tlingit women prepared the flesh for immediate use by broiling it or boiling it on a centre fire [26, 27]. The boiled cod was eaten for breakfast with each family member ladling their individual portion on to their individual wood dish. If they had guests or were embarking on a long journey, they ate boiled cod with fresh or preserved berries . The Tlingit preserved cod by drying. They cut them in half down the back, took out the vertebrae and hung the carcasses of the fish on long sticks to sun-dry or cured them in smoke houses. Since the quality of cod was superior in the spring, many were preserved and stored during this time . The Nootka-Kwakiutl dried the fish for later use by slivering it and drying the slivers in the sun . The Kwakiutl ate the flesh immediately after roasting it on or beside a fire, or boiling it in wood kettles using hot stones. Those to be stored for later use in the winter were cut in slivers, and sun-dried or dried over a fire . The Kwakiutl used the boiled flesh for feasts. To clean the rod, the wife cut the head attached to the backbone off the rest of the carcass. She tied the remaining carcass together using cedar rope so that the flesh side was out and the scales inside. At the feast, after the first course of toasted dried salmon had been served and consumed, the uncooked cod carcasses were placed in baskets in kettles of boiling water in the middle of the house using tongs and cooked for a short time. While the meat was cooking, the woman dipped up the boiling liquid and poured it back into the boiling water, causing the fat and liquid to mix and became milky and thick. When done, she placed the meat in a large dish using tongs, untied the meat, spread it and removed the scales using a spoon, after which she flaked the meat. She ladled the meat into dishes and gave spoons to the guests. After the men had finished eating, the young men cleared the dishes and the remaining food was served to the wives of the guests. They also boiled “fermented” or aged cod, this dish being a delicacy. The wife placed the ripened cod into a big dish of water so that the water covered the body, placed the dish on a fire and continually turned the fish to warm it. Later, she scraped off the scales, put the cod on a mat and took off the remaining scales using cedar sticks. After boiling the fish she summoned her husband and children to eat from the kettle with spoons. The head was reserved for the man and he ate it after eating the remaining carcass; he ate the eyes first, crushed the head and ate the skull fat, and ate the meat and liquid using a spoon. This particular dish of ripened cod was reserved solely for a married couple and their children. When there were several ripened cod, the wife placed the heads in a kettle so that they faced up, covered the kettle with a mat. When finished she ladled the heads into a big dish and summoned her housemates to eat. They ate the heads with their hands, starting with the eyes, ate the skull fat, sucked the bones and discarded them in the fire. This dish was not for the numaym “kin group” or for several male guests; it was only for housemates of the fisherman. Also, no oil was used with it since it was very fatty.
Cod was also roasted. When several had been caught, they were cut in pieces and skewered on pine roasting tongs, roasting the flesh side first before roasting the skin. When blackened, they were removed. At times, the roasted cod was eaten immediately while hot. When eaten cold, the fish was dry and therefore dipped in oil. This dish was solely for a married couple and their children. It was not for feasts involving several men. This dish was also consumed cold in the morning, afternoon and evening, but was never consumed hot at breakfast because “it is fat and it is bad if it is eaten when still hot in the morning”. Cod was dried after gutting, deboning, skinning and cutting in pieces. It was sun dried in good weather or smoke-dried in the house behind the fire. Dried cod was eaten for breakfast when there was no dried salmon available .
The Kwakiutl also ate boiled cod stomach, prepared by removing the pectoral fins, gills, guts and intestines, turning the stomach inside out and placing in boiling water . Apart from the flesh, the Nootka also ate cod heads, tails and fins, which they steamed in layers of green leaves or pine boroughs on hot stones . Aside from the flesh, the Indigenous Peoples of Puget Sound also ate the roe, considering it a luxury .
Cod flesh was also used to make oil. The Haida of British Columbia did so by boiling partially decayed flesh, skimming the resultant oil or grease from the top, and straining the oil or grease, which they kept in boxes . The Tlingit used the heads and backbones as dog food and the Indigenous Peoples of Puget Sound used part of the bones to make hooks [26, 36]. The Tlingit gave some of the caught raw cod as gifts to relatives . In times of scarcity due to poor fish runs and stormy winter preventing cod and halibut fishing, the Coast Salish walked the beaches searching for codfish heads which had been rejected by seals and sea lions .
Beliefs and taboos
Various cultures observed rituals when fishing or processing cod. Before going cod fishing, the Nootka fisherman needed to wash himself of the smells of “uncleanness” so the cod would not be offended, the worst of these smells being those of a pregnant or menstruating woman. The fisherman had a kit of rubbing materials used in ritual bathing to eliminate the unclean smell; the hands that would touch the fishing gear were scrubbed. This ritual was performed for a month before the fishing season and also just before heading out to fish. This kit was placed in a fishing medicine kit, hung where the fisherman slept, away from where a spirit passing by could steal its power, and women were not allowed to see or touch the rubbing kits . When decoy-fishing for cod, fisherman performed various dances to ensure a good catch . If the fisherman dreamed about the dead before setting out fishing, this was a bad omen, a warning to stay home . The Southern Kwakiutl and Nuxalk also performed different kinds of imitative dances so that their canoes would brim with cod when they went fishing . The Kwakiutl did not permit the guts to remain in the carcass overnight because they believed that if they did so they would never catch cod again . Coast Salish fishermen used songs or prayers while fishing cod. Some of these were informal and spontaneous; others were obtained in dream or during supernatural experiences. The best cod fishermen used songs or prayers that they had gained from dreams or supernatural experiences, kept these songs and prayers secret and earned riches and prestige from being the best cod fishermen .
Pacific tomcod were consumed by Coastal BC First Nations including Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) of Vancouver Island and Coast Salish, Tlingit, Inupiat, Yupik, Inuvialuit and Inuit [26, 35, 37-42].
Pacific tomcod were typically caught in winter through ice holes using the jigging technique [35, 38-41]. The Coast Salish caught them using a bone jig attached to a weighted line, and in more recent times, a lead jig attached to an unweighted line. This line was made of stinging nettle fiber. A weight made of rock, was fastened to the line a few feet above the jig. Alternately, they used a jigging hook made of western yew “fitted with a bone barb” When the fish swallowed the jig, the fisher pulled the line so that the hook was embedded in its throat, and then reeled it in slowly to the top .
Copper Inuit caught them by jigging a big, barbless hook to which little bangles of white bone were attached. When the fish was lured to the bangles, the hooks were brought up, snaring the fish in the throat. Langton Bay Inuvialuit caught them with different kinds of hooks, though no mention is made whether the hooks were jigged . The Nootka jigged them using trolling hooks called straight-shanked angled hooks, and with bentwood hooks. These trolling hooks were spruce root shafts fastened with nettle fibre string to wood, boner or iron points, the hooks also being fastened to a kelp stem line leader using nettle fiber string. The bentwood hook was a steam-bent shaft bound to a bone point and was attached to a nettle fibre line leader .
The flesh was eaten by all the aforementioned cultures; cultures of the Northern Alaska coast, Copper Inuit and Coast Salish also ate the roe [35, 38]. Northern Alaskan coast cultures and Copper Inuit also ate the intestines . The Coast Salish barbecued the flesh or sliced it into steaks, which were boiled for immediate consumption. Hot stones were put into a cedar root basket or a bent cornered cedar carton to which water had been added. When the water had boiled, the steaks were added. They also used the flesh as bait for ling cod fishing .
Inuit of Labrador (including Makkovik), Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Newfoundland, Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto, Wampanoag and East Coast Indigenous Peoples are reported to have eaten Atlantic cod [23, 43-47]. The Indigenous Peoples of the circumpolar area and Netsilik Inuit are also reported to have caught and eaten Atlantic cod in winter .
The East Coast Indigenous Peoples valued Atlantic cod highly, while Inuit of Labrador did not appear to desire it [44, 46]. Even so, some Inuit of Labrador caught Atlantic cod in summer and stored it for winter consumption . Atlantic cod flesh, roe and eyes were eaten, while oil was extracted from the liver. Cultures of Northern Alaska, in particular, rendered the oil by placing the liver in a container in the house and let the oil seeped out. They did not consume the oil with any food, they simply drank it . The Wampanoag ate other parts of the fish, in addition to the flesh. They boiled the liver and air sacs, and fried the roe. When preparing fish chowder from Atlantic cod, they left the air sacs in the fish. They got “lucky bones” from the head and carried them as charms . The oil from Atlantic cod liver was of economic importance to Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto “before it became of commercial importance to white man” .
Pacific cod was eaten by The Coast Tsimshian, Indigenous Peoples of Southeast Alaska, Coastal British Columbia Aboriginals, Coast Straits Salish [30, 37, 38, 48]. The Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) Aht also caught Pacific cod . The People of Port Simpson (Tsimshian) caught Pacific cod in winter by placing jigs in rocky channels and near coral and underwater ridges . In southeast Alaska, Tlingit fished Pacific cod during March–April in shallow inshore banks, where fish congregate to spawn. Fishing banks were likely owned and the Tlingit highly valued Pacific cod, which was of economic significance to them. They fished them with hook and line .
The Coast Straits Salish likely caught Pacific cod from December to March, which was the spawning season of these fish. They jigged them using a bone jig attached to a rock sinker with the aid of a line made of stinging nettle fiber. In more recent times, the jig was made of lead and did not require the extra weight of a sinker. The jigging hook was made of western yew and was attached to a bone barb. When the fish took the hook, the fisher yanked the line so that the hook was stuck in its throat and it was reeled in. They also caught them with shuttlecock lures that were hollowed-out cylindrical poles with six white seagull wing feathers attached to one end of each cylinder. The lure was forced to the bay bottom with the aid of a pole, and then let go, making it spin to the surface. This lured the fish to the surface, at which point the fisherman scooped it out and tossed into the canoe or speared it with a one-pronged spear, which was a long iron wood pole with a point at one end. When Pacific cod were plentiful and near the water surface, they speared them with a two or three-pronged spear or simply scooped them by hand and tossed them in a canoe. The two pronged spear consisted of two iron wood or ocean spray prongs secured to a very long red cedar or Douglas fir pole with the aid of a wild cherry bark or stinging nettle cord and each prong had a single barb on the outside. The three pronged spear was fastened to the pole in the same way as the two pronged spear, but the prongs were barbless .
When catching Pacific cod in deep water, the Nootka Aht used a lure to bring the fish to the top, at which point it was subsequently speared. The lure was a live tiny herring or anchovy tied to a line. This was thrown deep into the sea and then drawn quickly to the top, thus attracting the cod to the top, and the cod was then speared from a canoe. In smooth water, the Nootka Aht sometimes used a lure that was a piece of wood, usually decayed, causing it to be light in weight. It was slender at one end, and at this end, a bit of heavier white wood acting as a spooned-bait was attached. This lure was thrown into the water attached to a long spear, and then jerked, causing it to rotate upwards, luring the fish upwards and the fish was subsequently speared .
Pacific cod was reported to be consumed smoked and dried, steamed, and barbecued [38, 48]. The Indigenous Peoples of Southeast Alaska cut it open with the stomach left intact and smoked and dried it . In southeast Alaska, Tlingit prepared Pacific cod by first removing the head, splitting the fish along its length, removing the guts, and then by laying the fish between hemlock branches in a shallow pit for several days to remove worms. Pacific cod was cooked to be eaten immediately or smoked to be stored and later soaked, roasted, or boiled . The Coast Salish barbecued or steamed it for immediate use. When steaming, it was put in a one-foot deep shallow pit reinforced with the outer bark of red cedar. This pit was covered with hot rocks taken from a fire, hemlock boughs were placed on the rocks and the whole dressed fish was put on top. Over this, another layer of hemlock boughs was placed and the pit and fish was finally covered with a cedar bark or bulrush mat. Steam was generated by passing water into dried stalks of elderberry or salmon berry which had been inserted into the pit and the steaming of the fish took about one hour .
Copper and Netsilik Inuit, Micmac (Mi'kmaq) of Richibucto were reported to have eaten Atlantic tomcod [31, 47, 51, 52].
They typically caught Atlantic tomcod in December and January, but Copper and Netsilik Inuit caught it in June [31, 51, 52] by jigging, while the Micmac caught it through the ice [31, 51].
The Micmac are reported to have prepared Atlantic tomcod by cleaning it, dividing it in half and smoking it on small wood racks over a smoky fire . They also roasted it on sticks .
Wainwright Inupiat and Netsilik Inuit are reported to have eaten Arctic cod [41, 53, 54]. Inupiat hacked a hole in the ice using a wooden ice chisel with a bone or ivory point, and in later times an iron point. The rig was a line to which was attached a stick on one end, and an ivory or metal sinker with four iron hooks on the other. They cast the line about a foot off the sea floor and moved it up and down to lure the cod. The captured fish was reeled in by twirling the line numerous times around the fishing rod and an ice scoop or thin stick .
The Cree of Fort George are reported to have eaten Greenland cod .
Indigenous Peoples of the circumpolar area are reported to have eaten polar cod, fishing for it through ice holes. They ate the flesh, roe and intestines. Caribou Inuit also ate the eyes .
As evidenced by faunal remains at the Kugaluk site, Nuvorugmiut of Kugaluk likely ate saffron cod .
The Penobscot caught pollock using a fish spear from a canoe. When they were swimming in schools, they jigged them with a moderately large unbaited hook made of willow, and was weighted with a rock and connected to a basswood fibre line .
Alaska Pollock were caught and eaten by the Coast Tsimshian, cultures of Southern Alaska and Northern British Columbia [25, 30, 37, 48, 57].
The cultures of Southern Alaska and Northern British Columbia ate Alaska pollock flesh and also extracted oil as follows: the fish was ripened, boiled in a wood dish or water-tight basket using hot stones added to water. When the oil rose to the surface, it was skimmed and stored. The refuse was wrung in mats and the oil was stored in boxes, or at times in tanned hollowed giant kelp stalk containers. They used the oil as a dipping sauce for dried fish .
Pacific hake, sometimes also called Pacific whiting, were reported to be eaten by cultures of the British Columbian coast  and the Tlingit . The Tlingit consumed Pacific hake fresh, not cured, which were not an important part of the diet as long as dried salmon and halibut were available .
Silver hake were reported to have been consumed by the Wampanoag .
Haddock is reported to have been eaten by the Micmac (Mi'kmaq) .
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Cod and Relatives General
Cod and relatives are part of a family of saltwater fish that lives in northern cold waters of the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific oceans. In North America, this family includes 13 species: the Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), the Pacific tomcod (Microgadus proximus), the Atlantic cod (G. morhua), the Atlantic tomcod (M. tomcod), the Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), the Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida), the Polar cod (Arctogadus glacialis), the pollock (Pollachius virens), the haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), the Greenland cod (G. ogac), the saffron cod (Eleginus gracilis), the Pacific hake (Merluccius productus), and the silver hake (M. bilinearis).
They all have spineless fins and an elongated body, and most have a catfish-like whisker or barbel on the chin. Most members of this family have three dorsal fins, two fins on the underside, and an obvious lateral line. In general, they can grow quite big, reaching up to over 1 m long. Most travel in large schools and are mainly bottom-dwellers feeding on small fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.
The Pacific tomcod (Microgadus proximus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast from Alaska to California. They are most closely related to the Atlantic tomcod (M. tomcod). They are very similar species, with their pelvic fins that extend into long filaments and a heavily blotched colour pattern, but the Pacific tomcod rarely grow bigger than 30 cm long and are generally smaller than the Atlantic tomcod. Pacific tomcod are most often found along sandy bottom of deep ocean waters.
The Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from northern Labrador to North Carolina. They are most closely related to the Pacific cod (G. macrocephalus) and the Greenland cod (G. ogac), all within the same genus. Atlantic cod are very similar to the Pacific cod, but have a less vermiculated colour pattern and are covered with dark spots. Atlantic cod can grow much bigger than Pacific cod, reaching around 2 m long and close to 100 kg. Atlantic cod form schools and are most often bottom-dwelling in the open ocean.
The Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast from Alaska to California. They are most closely related to the Atlantic cod (G. morhua) and the Greenland cod (G. ogac), all within the same genus. Pacific cod have a vermiculated colour pattern and a long chin whisker or barbel (longer than the diameter of the eye), and a short space between the second and third dorsal fins. They do not grow as large as the Atlantic cod, but can reach over 1m long and more than 20 kg. Pacific cod form schools and are most often bottom-dwelling along the continental shelf and upper slopes.
The Atlantic tomcod (Microgadus tomcod) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast from Newfoundland to Virginia. They are most closely related to the Pacific tomcod (M. proximus). They are very similar species with their pelvic fins extending into long filaments and an heavily blotched colour pattern, but the Atlantic tomcod can grow close to 40 cm long and are generally larger than the Pacific tomcod. They are most often found bottom-dwelling in coastal waters, but can also be found landlocked in freshwater.
The Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from New Brunswick to Labrador, and into the Arctic Ocean up to Alaska. Unlike most other species of cod, haddock, pollock, and hake, Arctic cod have a very small barbel whisker on the chin and a slightly forked tail. Their lower jaw is slightly longer than the upper jaw. They are brownish on the back and silvery on the sides and belly. They can grow to 40 cm long and are found close to the surface along sea ice close to the shore, but also at great depths along the ocean bottom.
The Greenland cod (Gadus ogac) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from Nova Scotia to northern Labrador, and along the Arctic Ocean up. They are most closely related to the Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) and the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), all within the same genus, but are larger, reaching around 70 cm long.
The Polar cod (Arctogadus glacialis) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Arctic coast. Unlike other species of cod, haddock, pollock, and hake, Polar cod have no barbel whisker on the chin and a forked tail. They can grow to around 30 cm long and are most often associated with ice in offshore waters.
The saffron cod (Eleginus gracilis) is a saltwater fish occurring along the coast of Northwest Territories and Alaska. Unlike most other species of cod, haddock, pollock, and hake, saffron cod have a lower jaw that is shorter than the upper and a curved lateral line. They can grow to around 55 cm long and most often occupy shallow coastal waters.
The pollock (Pollachius virens) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast, from North Carolina to Labrador, and in the Hudson Bay. Unlike other species of cod, haddock, pollock, and hake, pollock have only a short barbel whisker on the chin and a deeply forked tail. They can grow quite big, up 1.3 m long, and weigh over 30 kg.
The Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Pacific coast from Alaska to California. Unlike most other species of cod, haddock, pollock, and hake, Alaska pollock lack a barbel whisker on the chin and have a slightly forked tail. They have widely separated dorsal fins and the pelvic fins are slightly elongated. They can grow to over 90 cm long and are most often found bottom-dwelling in offshore waters.
The Pacific hake (Merluccius productus) is a saltwater fish occurring along most of the North American Pacific coast. They are most closely related to the silver hake (M. bilinearis). Unlike most other species of cod, haddock, and pollock, the Pacific and silver hake have no barbel whisker on the chin and only two dorsal fins and one ventral fin. The Pacific hake is generally bigger than the silver hake and can grow to around 90 cm long. They most often occur in schools in deep open waters.
The silver hake (Merluccius bilinearis) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast from South Carolina to Newfoundland. They are most closely related to the Pacific hake (M. productus). Unlike most other species of cod, haddock, and pollock,, the silver and Pacific hake have no barbel whisker on the chin and only two dorsal fins and one ventral fin. The silver hake is generally smaller than the Pacific hake and grow to around 70 cm long. They prefer warmer and shallower waters compare to Pacific hake.
The haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) is a saltwater fish occurring along the North American Atlantic coast from Virginia to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Unlike most other species of cod, haddock, pollock, and hake, haddock have a longer, more triangular first dorsal fin, a very small barbel whisker on the chin, and a deeply forked tail. Their lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw and they have a large dark blotch below the lateral line and above the pectoral fin. They can grow to over 1 m long and weigh more than 15 kg.
1. Migdalski EC, Fichter GS: The fresh and salt water fishes of the world. New York, NY, USA: Knopf; 1976.
2. "Microgadus proximus Girard, 1854." [http://eol.org/pages/212901/details]
3. "Gadus morhua Linnaeus, 1758." [http://eol.org/pages/206692/details]
4. "Gadus macrocephalus Tilesius, 1810." [http://eol.org/pages/206691/details]
5. "Microgadus tomcod" [http://eol.org/pages/222380/details]
6. "Boreogadus saida Lepechin, 1774." [http://eol.org/pages/203867/details]
7. "Gadus ogac Richardson, 1836." [http://eol.org/pages/206695/details]
8. "Arctogadus glacialis Peters, 1872." [http://eol.org/pages/223486/details]
9. "Eleginus gracilis Tilesius, 1810." [http://eol.org/pages/220321/details]
10. "Pollachius virens" [http://eol.org/pages/994633/details]
11. "Theragra chalcogramma Pallas, 1814." [http://eol.org/pages/216657/details]
12. "Merluccius productus Ayres, 1855." [http://eol.org/pages/205099/details]
13. "Merluccius bilinearis Mitchill, 1814." [http://eol.org/pages/205099/details]
14. "Melanogrammus aeglefinus" [http://eol.org/pages/212899/details]