Atlantic cod pass through a series of four life history stages as they develop. Initially they begin as pelagic eggs which are located in harbors, bays, and offshore banks. The eggs are associated with an incubation temperature around 2 to 8.5 degrees Celsius. The eggs are buoyant and remain close to the surface waters. Studies have shown that egg mortality is independent of temperature but increases at lower salinities. Next, the larval stage takes place. Larvae are located in pelagic waters and their growth is correlated with the volume of zooplankton which can feed upon the sac larvae at this stage. During the third stage, juveniles occur in coastal and offshore waters in the summer and deeper waters in the winter. They are tolerant of temperature changes from 6 to 20 degrees Celsius and they often use vegetation as a predator avoidance strategy. The final stage is adulthood. They live at temperatures less than 10 degrees Celsius and primarily inhabit the ocean floor.
- Fahay, M., P. Berrien, D. Johnson, W. Morse. 1999. Atlantic Cod (Gadus Morhua) Life History and Habitat Characteristics. National Ocean and Atomospheric Administration Technical Memorandum, 122-152: 1-35. Accessed October 13, 2005 at http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/nefsc/publications/tm/tm124/tm124.pdf.