A cod species found up north is under the microscope due to the lack of knowledge of the fish. Arctic cod are not commercially fished in Alaskan waters but are caught and sold in Russia and Europe. It is not the commercial aspect of the fish that is making it a target for researchers but more for its purpose in the marine ecosystem.
“It’s a species of interest because of its ecological importance. It’s a species that just about everything in the Arctic eats; whales, seals, and seabirds all depend on them.”
“It’s smaller than Walleyed Pollock, they actually look very similar. The larger females really don’t get beyond 30 centimeters. And they are really energetically rich, they have more fat content than a lot of the other cod species and they are able to seemingly be able to grow in these cold environments.”
“It’s kind of a bellwether species for climate change and there has been a real demand for understanding how the species could respond to a change in climate.”
“It’s a difficult species to study. It is hard to get to for one, and it is carrying out most of its life history under the ice. Everything becomes logistically challenging to just get samples, so it is intriguing to study just because it’s so elusive. ”
“The goal of the research is to understand the temperature response of the animal. And we have to do that at different life stages. The environment in the Arctic is changing, and how small changes in temperature are critical to their different life phases affects their survival.”