By Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

​Five years ago, marine ecologist Aaron Galloway surfaced with a ling cod he had spearfished off the coast of Oregon and proceeded to freak out.

Endemic to the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja California — but most abundant in British Columbia waters — ling cod are big-mouthed, feisty, bottom-dwelling fish that make for good sport and good eating.

Though typically mottled-brown red or even greyish-green with white-hued flesh, Galloway’s specimen was a shocking electric blue.

“I pulled up this ling cod and looked at his mouth. It was bright blue,” said Galloway, a professor at the University of Oregon. “I couldn’t believe it and thought, ‘What the heck is this?’”

His reaction wasn’t much different to that of many recreational fishermen along the West Coast who occasionally pull up the fish that can be a neon blue — both inside and out.

Often referred to as Smurf cod or Smurf meat, in reference to the popular blue cartoon creatures, online fishing forums and chat rooms are filled with people asking if turquoise-tinted ling cod are safe to eat, or even toxic and possibly the result of mercury or nuclear radiation contamination.

This item is reprinted with permission from Canada’s National Observer. For the complete article, click HERE

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