Marine biologists at the Vancouver Aquarium in British Columbia, Canada, have successfully reared several hundred Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) over a six-month period that they say will help them advance the study of this keystone species. Because the fish lives in fairly inhospitable locations in the Arctic and spends nine months a year under the ice, scientists have had a difficult time studying it. The scientists hope the breeding program will give them a chance to better understand how the cod lives and how this species adapts to changes in temperature, salinity and pH in Arctic waters.
The Arctic cod is the main food source for a variety of marine mammals, as well as fish such as Arctic char, Greenland halibut, Atlantic salmon and Atlantic cod. Boreogadus saida grows to approximately 11 inches in length. As an adult, it has brown and black dots on its back and upper sides, while its belly is generally silver in color. Its fins are blackish in color with a lateral line running on both sides of its body from head to tail. The fish can be found in a variety of northern Canadian locations, including the Beaufort Sea, Arctic Archipelago, Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay. It can also be found off the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland.