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Flatheads Gurnards Scorpionfishes and Relatives: Scorpaeniformes

Lingcod (ophiodon Elongatus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Lingcod are large, up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weighing 100 pounds (45 kilograms). The mouth has large teeth. The dorsal fin runs the entire length of the body and looks like two fins. Most lingcod are brown; some are blue-green. They all have staggered black blotches along the sides of the body and the back. Males become all black in the winter just before mating.

Geographic range: Lingcod live in the Pacific Ocean along the west coast of North America from Alaska to Mexico.

Habitat Lingcod spawn, or release eggs, on rocky reefs along the shoreline. After spawning the females move to sand and mud bottoms in deeper water. Males stay on the spawning reefs.

Lingcod mainly eat fish, including young lingcod, by swallowing them head first. (Illustration by Gillian Harris. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Lingcod mainly eat fish, including young lingcod, by swallowing them head first.

Behavior and reproduction: Lingcod rest near rocks and wait for prey to come close. Males spawn with one female after another, guarding up to three egg masses at a time.

Lingcod and people: Lingcod is valued as a food fish.

Conservation status: Lingcod are not threatened or endangered. ∎



Allen, Missy, and Michel Peissel. Dangerous Water Creatures. New York: Chelsea House, 1992.

Gilbert, Carter Rowell, and James D. Williams. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Fishes: North America. New York: Knopf, 2002.

Web site:

"Lionfish Invade Eastern US Coast." Neuroscience for Kids. http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/lion.html (accessed on November 10, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceFish and Other Cold-Blooded VertebratesFlatheads Gurnards Scorpionfishes and Relatives: Scorpaeniformes - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Oriental Helmet Gurnard (dactyloptena Orientalis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, FLATHEADS G