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Fish #79 Cusk Brosme brosme Catherine Parker
Assorted pencils - graphite, chinagraph and coloursoft, plus hard pastel sticks, on recycled cardboard 25 x 33 cm
The cusk, a small-scaled, cod-like marine fish of temperate climates, inhabits the deep offshore rocky, cavern-like bottoms of either side of the North Atlantic. Of the ling family Lotidae, it is the only species of the taxonomic genus Brosme. (Note, some sources claim it is of the cod family Gadidae.)
Average size: 1 m long; it is a slow grower taking over 5 years to reach 0.5 m. Weight: 2.5 kg to 10 kg. Lifespan: up to 20 years.
It varies in colour, from red-brown to green-brown to yellow, with a belly of a paler shade.
Eats mainly crabs and molluscs while its common predators are the blackrim cusk-eel, thorny skate and windowpane flounder and seals.
It is a somewhat solitary soul delving into the dark depths (20m and beyond) yet still at risk of ending up as a 'bycatch'. Is not specifically targeted by fishermen and is caught by accident. Anglers are no risk to cusk as the fish live mainly beyond their reach. However, the cusk is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern, meaning the U.S. Government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, has some concerns about its status and threats, but there is insufficient information for the species to be listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Cusk is evidently good to eat and has a mild lobster-like or cod-like taste; popular particularly in Scandinavia and North America
It came from the depths... Brosme brosme: from the Greek - brosomai, bibrosko: to devour! The cusk, aka torsk (and tusk and tork), lumb (in Germany), moonfish, brismak and brosmius, can be found from Ireland to Iceland, in the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits, the western Barents Sea, the North Sea, the North West Atlantic, in the fjords and on the Norwegian continental shelf. The cusk is easily identifiable from all its relatives because it has only one dorsal fin.
I liked the sound of this fish; it isn't stupid, it keeps out of the way of fishermen; it is different and goes by many aliases. It is a master of disguise. Perhaps it's shy.
A Ditty to the Cusk
Oh cusk, sweet cusk, deep down in the dusk
You're quite a dish, for a fish
You're partial to lobster I hear
That could be your undoing I fear
Though your taste for the crustacean is just I feel
While you're feasting away along comes a seal
A gourmet indeed
And you'll let out a squeal
He may be after you or your prey, this mobster,
But if luck's on your side he'll take the lobster
So take heed dear fish
Or become a seal's dish
And finally, a piece of trivia - the word cusk has a Scrabble score of ten!
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