Atlantic cod populations respond differently to predators depending on what region of the Atlantic Ocean they occupy. Atlantic cod are susceptible to being consumed by large marine mammals (harp and harbor seals) and sharks. In the northwest Atlantic Ocean most of the large predatory fish have been removed and cod (and similar species) act as dominant predators in this region. In other parts of the Atlantic Ocean with large harp seal populations the number of Atlantic cod has been greatly reduced due to consumption by seals. Cod larvae are vulnerable to smaller predators such as zooplankton. Juveniles are preyed on by species such as dogfish, squid, and halibut. Cannibalistic behavior becomes apparent as adult Atlantic cod readily consume juveniles. Although adult Atlantic cod have relatively few predators compared to their young, they still must be on the lookout for large marine animals. The greatest predatory threats to cod are those that lurk above the surface. Humans are responsible for drastically lowering Atlantic cod populations through well-developed fisheries. The economy of several regions is dependent upon these fisheries and the great demand for large numbers of Atlantic cod has resulted in overfishing and reduced cod stocks.
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