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Haddock is a deep-sea marine fish native to the North Atlantic Ocean.
Haddock is a hugely popular food worldwide, perhaps nowhere more so than in the UK, where it's actually a staple in some local dishes. This fish is closely related to cod, another popular dish. Firm and slightly sweet, it is commonly used for frying, roasting and smoking.
3 Unbelievable Haddock Facts!
- It is adapted to life in deep cold waters around 35 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Haddock swim together in large schools for protection.
- Despite being a deep-sea fish, this fish spends its early life near the surface. Its eating and behavioral habits change as it ages.
Haddock taxonomic name
Haddock's scientific name is Melanogrammus aeglefinus . Melanogrammus basically means black thread in Greek. Aeglefinus comes from the French word églefin , which means haddock. A species of ray, it is a member of the true cod family and the only extant member of the genus.
Haddock is a medium-sized fish, between 1 and 3 feet in length, and weighs about 7 pounds (although the largest fish ever caught weighed 40 pounds). It is most easily identified by the black or purple line that runs along the back and the distinctive markings on the sides of the body. The markings, sometimes called "devil's fingerprints," stand out against a white or silver body. Another characteristic of haddock is the presence of three dorsal fins on the back, two anal fins on the bottom, and a small antennae on the chin, the purpose of which may be to sense the surrounding environment.
Cod vs Haddock
There are actually several species of cod, whereas haddock has only one species. The species most closely related to haddock is probably the Atlantic cod. They all have a similar body size, similar arrangement of fins, and the same chin barbels. But the main difference is that cod tends to be bigger, sometimes more than twice the size, and doesn't have the same markings.
Distribution, Population and Habitat
This fish can be found on either side of the North Atlantic Ocean and usually swims at depths of 300 to 700 feet, but sometimes as deep as 1,500 feet. The largest schools of fish in U.S. waters are found in the Gulf of Maine and George Shoal (off the coast of New England). They are currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, but this assessment may be outdated as their status has not been properly assessed since 1996.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) carefully tracks population levels in the Atlantic Ocean each year. They estimate that population levels remain above average due to careful management of existing inventories. This represents an improvement in population levels from when haddock stocks were under stress in the second half of the 20th century. The United States also has regulations designed to minimize accidental bycatch.
predator and prey
This fish is a carnivorous predator. It spends most of its time prowling the ocean floor for slow-moving invertebrates and smaller fish. It can move relatively quickly to avoid potential predators.
What does haddock eat?
Juveniles are preyed upon by rays, spiny dogfish, cod, halibut and other bottom fish. Adult seals are also predated by gray seals.
What does haddock eat?
Haddock feeds on worms, starfish, sea urchins, sand dollars, molluscs, crustaceans and occasionally smaller fish and eggs.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Haddock typically spawns between January and June, at least in US waters, when schools of fish congregate to breed. Egg production depends on the size of the female. Females lay an average of about 850,000 eggs per breeding season, with larger females laying about 3 million eggs. The female lays a clutch of eggs near the ocean floor, where the male then fertilizes them. The eggs then rise up the water column to the surface and drift along ocean currents for about 15 days.
Newly hatched haddock spend their first few months close to shore, where they feed on small crustaceans called copepods. After reaching about 3 inches in length, haddock return to the depths and transition to an adult diet. By the end of their first year, haddocks have reached about a foot in size, but it can take up to four years to become fully sexually mature and start reproducing. The typical lifespan of haddock is 10 years or more. Many fish are caught between 3 and 7 years old after they have had ample chance to reproduce. Evidently, given the number of eggs laid, haddock suffers enormous depletion before most reach adulthood.
fishing and cooking
Haddock is one of the most popular saltwater marine fish in the United States and Northern Europe. Harvest them year-round using longlines, gillnets, rods, and reels to minimize impact on surrounding habitat. There are also some restrictions on the use of trawl nets. In 2019 alone, commercial fishing produced more than 19 million pounds of haddock, worth nearly $19 million. Recreational fishermen caught an additional 1.8 million pounds.
The flesh of haddock is very similar to cod: white, firm and moist. In fact, their meats are so similar that they are sometimes used interchangeably, although haddock has a slightly sweeter flavor. In the UK, both haddock and cod are popular ingredients in fish and chips recipes, in which the fish is battered and fried in oil. Finnan haddie is the name of cold-smoked haddock native to North East Scotland. Other popular recipes include baked haddock covered in breadcrumbs.
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Haddock FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is haddock?
Haddock is a medium-sized saltwater ray. It is a member of the true cod family. As a carnivore, most of its prey are invertebrates that move slowly along the seafloor.
Where can I find haddock?
Haddock is found on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean, in bays, river banks and bays. Adults spend most of their time near the bottom of the ocean.
Is haddock healthy?
Haddock is rich in protein, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and several other important nutrients. Mercury levels are fairly low (0.055 parts per million) compared to many saltwater saltwater fish. Most healthy adults probably don't need to limit the number of food servings they eat each week.
How do you cook haddock?
Some of the most common recipes include fried haddock (like fish and chips) or baked haddock in breadcrumbs.
What is the difference between haddock and halibut?
Haddock and halibut differ in appearance, size, diet, distribution, predators, reproduction and lifespan.
What is the difference between haddock and Alaskan pollock?
Haddock and Alaskan cod differ in size, appearance, habitat, range, taxonomy and conservation status.
What is the difference between haddock and halibut?
The difference between haddock and flounder is appearance, size, diet, distribution, predators, reproduction and lifespan.
What is the difference between haddock and salmon?
Differences between haddock and salmon include appearance, size, diet, habitat, reproduction, and lifespan.
What is the difference between pollock and haddock?
Differences between pollock and haddock include appearance, size, diet, distribution, reproduction, and lifespan.
What is the difference between tilapia and haddock?
The differences between tilapia and haddock include appearance, size, diet, distribution, reproduction, and lifespan.
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- NOAA Fisheries, available here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/haddock
- Mass.gov, available here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/learn-about-haddock