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Gadus macrocephalus  Tilesius, 1810

Pacific cod
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Gadus macrocephalus
Picture by Orlov, A.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes (gen., sp.) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Gadiformes (Cods) > Gadidae (Cods and haddocks)
Etymology: Gadus: Latin, gadus = a fish, cod? (Ref. 45335);  macrocephalus: macrocephalus meaning large head (Ref. 6885).

Environment / Climate / Range Ecology

Marine; demersal; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 183 - 1280 m (Ref. 50550), usually 100 - 400 m (Ref. 54440).   Temperate; 6°C - 9°C (Ref. 11800); 63°N - 31°N, 119°E - 119°W (Ref. 54440)

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: Lm 67.0, range 40 - 85 cm
Max length : 119 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 40637); max. published weight: 22.7 kg (Ref. 27436); max. reported age: 25 years (Ref. 55701)

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 37-57; Anal spines: 0; Anal soft rays: 31 - 42; Vertebrae: 49 - 55. Distinguished by the presence of 3 dorsal and 2 anal fins, a long chin barbel (about 3/4 as long as the eye diameter in young, longer than eye diameter in adults), and a space between the second and third dorsal fins that is shorter than the eye diameter (Ref. 27547). Lateral line with a prominent arch under the 1st and 2nd dorsal fins, is straight toward the tail, ending under the 3rd dorsal (Ref. 27547). Brown or gray dorsally, becoming paler ventrally; dark spots or vermiculating patterns on the sides (Ref.1371). Yellow color phases are known (Ref. 27547). Fins dusky; dorsal, anal and caudal fins with white edges that are wider on anal and caudal than on dorsal (Ref. 27547).

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | SELECT scientificname FROM scientificname WHERE scientificname = Gadus macrocephalus LIMIT 1Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

North Pacific: Yellow Sea to the Bering Strait, along the Aleutians, and south to about Los Angeles, USA. Rare in the southern part of its range.

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

Found mainly along the continental shelf and upper slopes (Ref. 1371). Form schools (Ref. 9988). They appear to be indiscriminate predators upon dominant food organisms present (Ref. 1371). Young probably feed on copepods and similar organisms (Ref. 27547). Adults feed on fishes, octopi, and large benthic and benthopelagic crustaceans (Ref. 1371); also worms. Marketed fresh and frozen for human consumption (Ref. 2850), and also dried or salted and smoked (Ref. 9988). Eaten steamed, fried, broiled, boiled, micro-waved and baked (Ref. 9988). Used in Chinese medicine (Ref. 12166). The Bering Sea and Aleutian Island Alaska (Pacific) Cod - Freezer Longline fishery of this species has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council ( as well-managed and sustainable (

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

From late summer to mid-winter, fish move into the deeper water (100 to 250 m) of spawning areas; move inshore to depths of 30 to 60 m after spawning (Ref. 27547).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator | Collaborators

Cohen, D.M., T. Inada, T. Iwamoto and N. Scialabba, 1990. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 10. Gadiform fishes of the world (Order Gadiformes). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of cods, hakes, grenadiers and other gadiform fishes known to date. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(10). Rome: FAO. 442 p. (Ref. 1371)

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 96402)

CITES (Ref. 94142)

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans


Human uses

Fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes
FAO(fisheries: production, species profile; publication : search) | FisheriesWiki | Sea Around Us


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Estimates of some properties based on models

Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805):  PD50 = 0.6250   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00776 (0.00656 - 0.00919), b=3.08 (3.03 - 3.13), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245).
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278):  4.2   ±0.1 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278):  Low, minimum population doubling time 4.5 - 14 years (Musick et al. 2000 (Ref. 36717); tmax=25; tm=3-8; K=0.11-0.27; Fec >1million).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153):  Moderate to high vulnerability (55 of 100) .
Price category (Ref. 80766):   Low.