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Time and Tide Bell ~ #200Fish

A Continuing Arts Programme facing Lincolnshire's Coast

#200Fish is a community project to create works of art based on each of the species of fish found in the North Sea

To learn more and find out how to join the project click here.

Fish #69 Atlantic Cod Gadus morhua ~ Aimie Elliot

Acrylic paint on board 12.5 x 17.5 cm

Atlantic Cod

I chose to paint the Cod because it links times past and present for me. My maternal great Grandfather was a Grimsby skipper. When I was growing up, I was always told that you don't eat Cod because it's a scavenger. You sell the Cod on and keep the Haddock to eat yourself. I often think about this when I am in the fish and chip shop in Sutton on Sea buying lunch. My paternal Grandmother mended fishing nets which my dad remembers hung over the back walls of their terrace in Grimsby. This was paid piece work and a common source of income for women in those days. I also like the stoic sense that it's simple name suggests.

Gadus morhua (Atlantic Cod) lives In the western Atlantic Ocean, cod has a distribution north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and around both coasts of Greenland and the Labrador Sea; in the eastern Atlantic, it is found from the Bay of Biscay north to the Arctic Ocean, including the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, Sea of the Hebrides, areas around Iceland and the Barents Sea. The largest individual on record was 6 feet (1.8 m) long and weighed 211 lb (96 kg), however usually the cod is between 24 inches (61 cm) and 4 feet (1.2 m) long, and weighs 88 lb (40 kg). There is generally no difference in weight or size between sexes of Atlantic Cod. Atlantic Cod can live for 25 years, and usually attain sexual maturity between ages two and four, although cod in the northeast Arctic can take as long as eight years to fully mature. Colouring is brown or green, with spots on the dorsal side, shading to silver ventrally. A stripe along its lateral line (used to detect vibrations) is clearly visible. Its habitat ranges from the shoreline down to the continental shelf.

Several cod stocks collapsed in the 1990s (declined by >95% of maximum historical biomass) and have failed to recover even with the cessation of fishing. This absence of the apex predator has led to a trophic cascade in many areas. Many other cod stocks remain at risk. The Atlantic cod is labelled vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Stomach sampling studies have discovered that small Atlantic cod feed primarily on crustaceans, while large Atlantic cod feed primarily on fish. In certain regions, the main food source is decapods with fish as a complementary food item in the diet. Wild Atlantic cod throughout the North Sea depend, to a large extent, on commercial fish species also used in fisheries, such as Atlantic mackerel, haddock, whiting, Atlantic herring, European plaice, and common sole, making fishery manipulation of cod significantly easier. Ultimately, food selection by cod is affected by the food item size relative to their own size. However, providing for size, cod do exhibit food preference and are not simply driven by availability.

Atlantic cod are apex predators in the Baltic and adults are generally free from the concerns of predation. Juvenile cod, however, may serve as prey for adult cod, which sometimes practice cannibalism. The cod produces a protein similar to antifreeze so that the fish may survive the freezing temperatures found in the North Atlantic. Once a cod is hauled up from the freezing waters, its meat will instantly crystallize as the fish no longer produces the protein.

The Atlantic Cod has been referred to as the "sacred cod" for a few reasons. First, according to New England folklore, the cod was the fish which Jesus multiplied to feed the crowds of people. The other reason concerns the difference in lateral line colours between the cod and the haddock. Jesus was thought to have thrown the cod into the sea with his hands, leaving a white lateral line on the fish, whereas the haddock was thought to be cast into the sea by Satan, who left his black mark on the lateral line of the fish. There have been historical accounts of cod as large as men. In 1838, a 180-pound fish was caught off George's Banks and in 1895, a six-foot cod weighing 211 pounds was caught off the coast of Massachusetts.


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Lincolnshire Time and Tide Bell Community Interest Company is a not-for profit organisation, registered at Companies House. Company Number 10934941