So What’s Up with Blue Lingcod? New Scientific Paper

Photo by Laurel Lam: Examples of the range of ‘blue’ and ‘brown’ color variants in lingcod as provided in a new paper by Galloway et al. (2021).

Ever come across a blue lingcod while fishing or SCUBA diving? Blue-colored flesh in fishes is relatively rare but occasionally seen in some sculpins, perch, and greenlings including lingcod.

A recent paper by Aaron Galloway, at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, and collaborators describes research looking at biological and spatial factors that could explain variation in blue coloration of lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus). The researchers sampled 2,021 fish across their range, from southeast Alaska to southern California. The samples from southern Oregon were collected in the Redfish Rocks Marine Reserve and Humbug Comparison Area, by the ODFW Marine Reserves Program, during our hook-and-line and longline surveys. Our former team member, Jessica Watson, is one of the paper’s contributing authors.


Some of the findings by the researchers were that the probability of having blue flesh was highest for fish that were female, caught in shallower water, and smaller in body size. Occurrences of blueness varied by region (4–25% of all fish) but was also confounded by differences in sex ratios of fish caught among regions. Fatty acid concentrations were lower in blue fish suggesting differences in energetics and energy storage in blue vs. brown fish. The researchers noted that though their data reveal potential links between diet and blue flesh in lingcod, questions remain about the physiological mechanisms around blueness and its biological consequences.

Read the Paper to Learn More

Galloway, Aaron W. E., Beaudreau, A.H., Thomas, M.D., Basnett, B.L., Lam, L.S., Hamilton, S.L., Andrews, K.S., Schram, J.B., Watson, J., Samhouri, J.F. Assessing prevalence and correlates of blue colored flesh in lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) across their geographic range. Marine Biology (2021) 168:139