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Massachusetts State Fish

Cod

Massachusetts State Fish - Cod

(Gadus morhua)

Adopted on May 6, 1974 .

The Cod, (Gadus morrhua,) a soft-finned fish, was designated the official state fish of Massachusetts in 1974. A soft-finned fish, usually 10-20 lbs. General coloring is olive grey with lateral lines paler than rest of body tint. Indians and Pilgrims used them as common food and fertilizer. A sculpture of a cod hangs in the House of Representatives as a tribute to this useful aquatic creature. For over 200 years, the emblem of the cod has remained a symbol of the Commonwealth's economic beginnings, as the fishing industry provided the Puritans with food, fertilizer, and revenue for trade.

Massachusetts State Fish: Cod

The Sacred Cod
Massachusetts State Fish - Cod
The Sacred Cod is a four-foot, eleven-inch carved-wood effigy of an Atlantic codfish, "painted to the life", hanging in the House of Representatives chamber of Boston's Massachusetts State House- "a memorial of the importance of the Cod-Fishery to the welfare of this Commonwealth" (i.e. Massachusetts, of which cod is officially the "historic and continuing symbol"). The Sacred Cod has gone through as many as three incarnations over three centuries: the first (if it really existed- the authoritative source calling it a "prehistoric creature of tradition") was lost in a 1747 fire, the second disappeared during the American Revolution, and the third is the one seen in the House today.

Sacred Cod is not a formal name but a nickname which appeared in 1895, soon after the carving was termed "the sacred emblem" by a House committee appointed "to investigate the significance of the emblem [which] has kept its place under all administrations, and has looked upon outgoing and incoming legislative assemblies, for more than one hundred years." Soon sacred cod was being used in reference to actual codfish as well, in recognition of the creature's role in building Massachusetts' prosperity and influence since early colonial times.

In 1933 the Sacred Cod was briefly "Cod-napped" by editors of the Harvard Lampoon, prompting police to drag the Charles River and search an airplane landing in New Jersey. In 1968 it was taken briefly again, this time by students at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Characteristics of the Cod

Cod is the common name for the genus Gadus of demersal fishes, belonging to the family Gadidae. Cod is also used as part of the common name for a number of other fish species, and there are species suggested to belong to genus Gadus that are not called cod (the Alaska pollock).

The two most important species of cod are the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), which lives in the colder waters and deeper sea regions throughout the North Atlantic, and the Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), found in both eastern and western regions of the northern Pacific.

In appearance, the head is rather disproportionately large for the body, with the upper jaw protruding over the lower. The color of the body can vary depending on the habitat in which the fish is found, but ranges from reddish or greenish where the water is populated by algae, and pale grey where the fish is found in deep water or near a sandy bottom. The cod has a barbel on the end of its chin and, in common with several other members of the family, three dorsal and two anal fins. The tail fluke is square-ended, and the lateral line is noticeable and extends from the point of the gill covers to the centre of the tail root.

Range

Atlantic cod range from the north and eastern coast of North America, around the southern tip of Greenland across the north Atlantic to the waters around Iceland, the Faroes, the North Sea and the Barents Sea. It is found all around the British coast, reaching south to the Bay of Biscay.

HistoryMassachusetts State Fish - Cod

Indians and Pilgrims used them as common food and fertilizer. A sculpture of a cod hangs in the House of Representatives as a tribute to this useful aquatic creature. For over 200 years, the emblem of the cod has remained a symbol of the Commonwealth's economic beginnings, as the fishing industry provided the Puritans with food, fertilizer, and revenue for trade.

Massachusetts Law

The law designating the cod as the official Massachusetts state fish or fish emblem is Section 13 of the General Laws of Massachusetts PART I ( ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT) TITLE I (JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS OF THE COMMONWEALTH, THE GENERAL COURT, STATUTES AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS) CHAPTER 2 (ARMS, GREAT SEAL AND OTHER EMBLEMS OF THE COMMONWEALTH) SECTION 13.

PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT.
TITLE I. JURISDICTION AND EMBLEMS OF THE COMMONWEALTH, THE GENERAL COURT, STATUTES AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.
CHAPTER 2. ARMS, GREAT SEAL AND OTHER EMBLEMS OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
SECTION 13.

Chapter 2: Section 13. Fish or fish emblem of commonwealth

Section 13. The cod shall be the fish or fish emblem and the historic and continuing symbol of the commonwealth.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Cod

Kingdom: Animalia - animals
Phylum: Chordata - chordates
    Subphylum: Vertebrata - vertebrates
Class: Osteichthyes
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Gadidae
Genus: Gadus
Species: Gadus morhua

State Fishes
State Fish
This is a list of official and *unofficial U.S. state fish: The only states lacking a state fish as of 2008 are Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, and Ohio.
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