Language English The Gulf of St. Lawrence Photo: claudelafondphoto.com Photo: Biodôme OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing features The Atlantic cod has three dorsal fins. It has a curved, white lateral line (distinguishing it from pollock, with its straight lateral line). It has a single chin barbel. These fish vary in colour. Reproduction Atlantic cod reach sexual maturity at 6 years or later. The female produces from 200,000 to 12 million eggs at a time. Spawning occurs in deep water, at depths of between 110 and 180 m. Diet Atlantic cod eat other fish, including capelin, sand lances, flounder and young halibut, shrimp and other crustaceans, marine worms, molluscs, starfish and almost anything they can swallow. They feed mostly near the seafloor. Predators Their main enemies are grey, harbour and harp seals. Habitat They are mainly bottom dwellers. They are generally found at depths of between 5 and 600 m, but occasionally much more. Atlantic cod have been reported down to 6,700 m. Ecology, behaviour A recent sharp decline in stocks forced the closure of the cod fishery. Overfishing is thought to be the main culprit. A secondary cause may be the increase in harp seal populations, since these seals eat large amounts of fish. The grey seal is the primary host of sealworms, parasitic nematodes that do not pose any risk to human health, but do lower the market value of codfish. French nameMorue franche Scientific nameGadus morhuaPhylumChordataClassOsteichthyes (bony fish)OrderGadiformesFamilyGadidaeSizeAverage length: 50 to 70 cm; maximum length: 1 m 90WeightAverage: 2 to 3.5 kg; maximum: 96 kgLife span20 to 29 yearsStatusVulnerable (IUCN - 1996); endangered (Most populations, COSEWIC - April 2010), Likely to be designated (MRNF).