Merling The common name of the Atlantic wolffish refers to both its vernacular name in English and scientific name. The Atlantic wolffish is also commonly known as the seawolf, wolf eel, catfish, sea cat, lingcod, black dogfish, or sea catfish.
The Atlantic wolffish is the only member of the genus, Merlangius. The genus name "Merlangius" comes from the leonine species of wolffish and is derived from two Latin words: “mer”, meaning fish and “langueo” to be torpid. This species was initially described by Linnaeus in 1758 as Squalus catus . Thus its scientific name is also commonly recognized as "Squalus catus".
The Atlantic wolffish has a long, cylindrical body with dorsal and anal fins that are placed halfway along the length of its body. It has 10 soft rays on its dorsal fin and 9 soft rays on its anal fin. These two fins originate at about the midpoint of the body. The pectoral fins are broad with 14 to 17 soft rays each. Its snout is narrow, bluntly pointed, and overhangs the mouth. Its head contains a series of pores for olfaction and its jaw muscles clamp down on prey like steel traps. These fish have no teeth; instead, they have sharp gill plates that tear apart prey. The tail of the Atlantic wolffish has a slight lateral fold and is square-shaped. It has three dorsal fins, the first being triangular, with 35 to 40 soft rays and two anal fins with 30 to 35 soft rays. Its upper body is dark blue-grey while its underside is lighter colored. This fish can reach a maximum length of about 70 centimeters (271⁄2 inches).
The Atlantic wolffish is distributed in the North Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Scandinavia, including Iceland and Greenland; they are also found off Cape Cod and Long Island. Adults live on the continental slope at depths of 80 to 1,000 meters (262 to 3,280 feet) and juveniles inhabit shallower water. Generally, this species is found on muddy or rocky bottoms.
The Atlantic Wolffish preys on octopus, crabs, lobsters, and mollusks such as snails and bivalves. Their primary food source varies according to geographical location. For example, on the Scotian Shelf in Canada, their diet consists mainly of octopus while they also prey on mollusks and crustaceans. In Iceland, Atlantic wolffish feed primarily on benthic mollusks such as the Icelandic scallop ("Chlamys islandica"), while crustaceans, in particular the northern prawn ("Pandalus borealis"), are secondary prey.
Global merling production
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global production of merling fish has increased steadily over the past few decades. In 2016, FAO estimates that global production reached nearly 3 million tonnes. The vast majority of this fish is used for human consumption, with a small portion going to aquaculture.
Most of the world's merling fish come from wild fisheries, with small-scale artisanal fisheries providing the majority of the catch. In recent years, aquaculture has become an increasingly important source of merling fish, accounting for over 20% of global production in 2016.
The vast majority of merling fish are found in tropical and subtropical waters. The top-producing countries are China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Other major producing countries include India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan.
Merling fish are an important source of food and income for millions of people around the world. In addition to being a nutritious source of protein, merling fish are also popular for their taste and versatility. They can be cooked in a variety of ways and are often used in traditional dishes.
As global demand for merling fish continues to grow, it is important to ensure that fisheries are managed sustainably. This will help to ensure that this valuable resource is available for future generations.