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Ophiodon elongatus - Lingcod

Geographic range:
Gulf of Alaska to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico

Key features:
Ophiodon elongates is elongate, fusiform, almost round in cross section and has only one lateral line. Its color is gray-brown to green with darker spots and mottling.

Similar species:
Hexagrammos decagrammus -- Kelp greenling

Habitat(s):
bay (rocky shore), bay (sandy shore), Continental shelf, continental slope, kelp forest
Ophiodon elongatus - Lingcod image

 

Primary common name:
Lingcod
  ITIS code:
167116
Synonymous name(s):
--
General grouping:
Bony fishes


Geographic Range
Range description:
Ophiodon elongates occur from the Shumagin Islands in the western Gulf of Alaska to Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. They possibly occur in the Bering Sea.
Northern latitude extent:
--
  Southern latitude extent:
--
East longitude extent:
--
  West longitude extent:
--


Intertidal Height
Lowest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Highest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
Intertidal height notes:
--


Subtidal Depth Range
Minimum depth:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Maximum depth:
475 meters OR 1498.5 feet
Subtidal depth notes:
Ophiodon elongates can be found from the intertidal to about 475 m in depth.


Habitats
Habitat(s):
bay (rocky shore), bay (sandy shore), Continental shelf, continental slope, kelp forest
Habitat notes:
Ophiodon elongates can be found from the intertidal to about 475 m in depth. Adults can be found near rocks, inshore, over reefs and soft bottoms. Juvenile Ophiodon elongates initially inhabit eel grass beds, and eventually move to flat bottom, sandy areas that are not typical habitat of older lingcod. They eventually settle in habitats of similar relief and substrate as older lingcod, but remain at shallower depths for several years. Both migratory and non-migratory populations of Ophiodon elongates exist.


Abundance
Relative abundance:
Ophiodon elongates are considered common.


Species Description
General description:
Ophiodon elongates belongs to the family Hexagrammidae, the greenling family. Ophiodon elongates is unique to the west coast of North America, with the center of abundance off the coast of British Columbia.
Distinctive features:
Ophiodon elongates is elongate, fusiform, almost round in cross section and has only one lateral line. Its color is gray-brown to green with darker spots and mottling. Ophiodon elongates are the only member of the Hexagrammidae family that has a large mouth and sharp, canine teeth. There is a cirrus over each eye. Ophiodon elongates has a long dorsal fin, that is continuous, deeply notched, and has 25-28 spines, 19-24 soft rays, 0-2 visible anal fin spines, and 21 or more soft rays. The caudal fin is tuncate and this fish has 1 lateral line. Adult males can be distinguished externally from females by the presence of a small, conical papilla behind the anal vent.
Size:
The maximum recorded size of Ophiodon elongates is 152 cm and 48 kg. Females get significantly larger than males reaching a typical size of 119 cm and 89 cm respectively.


Natural History
General natural history:
Females and males mature at 3-5 year old and 2 year old, respectively. Up to age 2, males and females grow at similar rates, with both reaching an average length of 45 cm. After age 2, females grow faster than males, with the growth of males tapering off at about age 8, and females continuing to grow until about age 12-14. Lingcod live up to a maximum of about 14 years for males and 20 years for females.
Predator(s):
Ophiodon elongates that survive the larval stages have few predators themselves, and are vulnerable mainly to marine mammals such as sea lions and harbour seals. Ophiodon elongates is highly esteemed by sport and commerical fishers. However, overfishing has led to severe restrictions on both fisheries.
Prey:
Ophiodon elongates is a voracious predator, feeding on crustaceans, mollusks, and many species of fish, including herring (Clupea harengus) and Pacific hake (Merluccius productus). Young feed on copepods and other small crustaceans.


Feeding behavior
Feeding behavior(s):
Carnivore
Feeding behavior notes:
Ambush or lunge predator, sitting on a rock and darting out quickly to capture prey with a mouth full of needle-like teeth.
 
October - November  
Reproduction:
Ophiodon elongates migrates to nearshore spawning grounds. The males migrate first, and establish nest sites in strong current areas in rock crevices or on ledges.

December - March  
Reproduction:
The females move into a spawning area at night to deposit their eggs (up to 490 000 for a 120 cm female). The eggs are deposited in crevices or under rocks, and become a firm, solid, cohesive mass. Females leave the nest site immediately after depositing eggs.

May - June  
Reproduction:
Larval Ophiodon elongates are pelagic until late May or early June when they settle to the bottom as juveniles.

March - April  
Reproduction:
The male lingcod remains with the egg masses (also called nests) and actively guards it from predation until the eggs hatch in early March through late April. Male lingcod are known to be aggressive when guarding a nest, and biting or chasing of divers, along with bodily protection of the nest is common. Nests will not survive predation if a male is removed from a nest. For this reason, winter closures for lingcod fishing have been put in place in some areas to protect nest guarding males. The males will guard the nest until the eggs hatch (about 5-11 weeks later), and often remain associated with a nest site after the nest disappears.
 
References:
Boschung, H.T., J.D. Williams, D.W. Gotshall, D.K. Caldwell, and M.C. Caldwell. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes, Whales and Dolphins. A.A. Knoph, New York, NY. 848 p.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada - Pacific Region. 2005 (updated 01/13/05). World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sci/sa-mfpd/lingcod/lingcod.htm, Accessed [04/22/06].

Froese, R. and D. Pauly (eds.). 2006 (Updated 01/02/06). FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.fishbase.org, Accessed [04/25/06].

Gotshall, D. 2001. Pacific Coast Inshore Fishes. Sea Challengers, Monterey, CA. 117 p.

Lamb, A. and P. Edgell. 1986. Coastal Fishes of the Pacific Northwest. Harbor Publishing, Madeira Park, BC, Canada. 224 p.

 
Data supplied by SIMoN Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Anthopleura xanthogrammica - Giant green anemone

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