Journal Article

Variant colourations of Atlantic cod (<i>Gadus morhua</i>) in Newfoundland and Labrador nearshore waters

Karen R. Gosse and Joseph S. Wroblewski

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 61, issue 5, pages 752-759
Published in print January 2004 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2004 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Variant colourations of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) in Newfoundland and Labrador nearshore waters

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Adult cod (Gadus morhua) inhabiting continental shelf waters of the Northwest Atlantic typically display a countershaded colouration: a dark back gradating to a light underbelly. Some cod in Newfoundland and Labrador inshore waters have predominantly brown or red pigmentation. Cod inhabiting Gilbert Bay in Labrador often have golden-brown colouration, likely the result of an invertebrate diet rich in carotenoids, and are known in the vernacular as the “golden cod of Labrador”. To determine the stability of these variant colourations, we captured cod from Gilbert Bay, held them in a net pen and fed them a diet of fish. Over the 12-week experimental period, the variant coloured cod lost much of their brown or red pigmentation, and became countershaded. Because of its impermanence when cod switch from invertebrate to fish prey, variant colouration of cod can provide only provisional information about stock origin.

Keywords: Atlantic cod; body colouration; carotenoids; diet

Journal Article.  4652 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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