The haddock is a medium-sized
fish, with a maximum length of 44 inches and
maximum weight of about 36 pounds. It is
distinguished from other members of the cod
family by its three dorsal fins, a small barbel
on the chin, and most importantly by the dark
patch on the flank just behind the gills. It also
has a distinguishing think black line that runs
from the head to the tail.
Haddock are found on both sides
of the North Atlantic, and in the Arctic. On the
European side it becomes less numerous from the
North Sea through the English Channel and into
the Bay of Biscay. On the American side it is
most numerous from Newfoundland south to off the
New England coast.
Haddock spawn from mid-January
to mid-June, with a peak from the middle of
February to the middle of March. Males compete
for females by facing off against each other and
making threatening displays until one or the
other backs down. The female then approaches the
"winner," the two engage in a brief
courtship ritual, and she then begins depositing
her eggs while the male simultaneously deposits
his milt. The pair may spawn a dozen or more
times over a period of a couple of weeks, with an
interval of about one day between each spawn. Up
to 200,000 or more eggs may be deposited by one
female in a breeding season.
Eggs are about 1/20 inch in
diameter and float some way off the bottom, at an
average depth of about 300 feet. The young fishes
remain in mid-water until they are about two
inches long, then become bottom feeders.
Adult haddock feed on a variety
of bottom-dwelling animals, including
crustaceans, shellfish, sea-urchins, and worms,
and will also gorge themselves on herring eggs
when given the chance.
genus & species Melanogrammus aeglefinus
Maurice Burton and Robert Burton. Funk
& Wagnalls Wildlife Encyclopedia.
New York: Funk & Wagnalls, Inc., 1974
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