Oxford Dictionary definition: small edible sea fish.
Our definition: Whiting (Merlangius merlangus) fish are similar in appearance to their larger relatives, cod, haddock, coley and pollack. They have three dorsal fins separated by small gaps, the third fin extending almost to the tail fin. The tail is not forked, having almost a square end. The two anal fins are very close together, nearly touching one another and, together with the anterior fin, are elongated. The pectoral fin is also long and projects beyond the base of the anal fin. A whiting’s upper jaw projects slightly beyond the lower, and the lateral line is continuous along the length of the body. In colour, individual fish vary quite a lot, and there is often a small dark blotch at upper base of the pectoral fin. They can grow to up to 50 cm long.
Whiting matures at between three and four years of age, and spawning takes place at a depth of 20 to 150 m. The time of the spawning varies from location to location: from January to spring in the Mediterranean; from January to September in the area between the British Isles and the Bay of Biscay; and throughout the year in the Black Sea. A large female can produce up to one million eggs. The eggs float in the open ocean and the larval whiting swim with other sea plankton until they have attained a length of around 10 cm. The fish grow quickly, with females growing faster than males, and can live to about ten years of age. The diet of the whiting consists of bottom-living organisms, such as crabs, shrimps, small fish, molluscs, worms, squid and cuttlefish.
The biggest threat to whiting is “over-harvesting” (euphemism) by the fishing fleets of many nations (of course).
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