Atlantic Cod

a prize batty—but
empty waves among the shingles
rock icon

After attending a conference in Newfoundland, Canada last month, the history and life history of Atlantic cod is fresh in my mind. The cod that I kissed during the “screech-in”, however, was not fresh.

Bountiful and infinite are two words someone living on the northeast coast of North America in the 17th century would have used to describe Atlantic cod. Actually, someone alive only 50 years ago may have said the same thing. Uncertainty and contentious are two words someone alive today would use to describe Atlantic cod.

Why the change in vernacular? Because of the infamous collapse of Newfoundland’s Atlantic cod fishery in the early 1990s. Since then Atlantic cod stocks in the Gulf of Maine have collapsed, and Europe’s stocks aren’t doing well either.

But maybe, the Atlantic cod are back in town. Too early to tell if they are here to stay.

Atlantic cod are quite striking in the water. Out of the water, there is a certain beauty to their dried corpses. It’s both fascinating and unsettling to me that many fishes are coupled with such richly tragic narratives.

P.S. Atlantic cod grunt during the spawning season. A partnership between fishers and scientists is figuring out how to hone in on these grunts to detect and avoid shoals of mating cod.