The Atlantic Cod is probably one of the most important commercial fishes of all time. For many countries, fishing in the North Atlantic meant fishing specifically for this species- both for the meat and for cod liver oil. A typical year might see a catch of close to 2 million tons of cod. It has been fished so intensively that regulations are now in place in an attempt to avoid a severe decrease in populations.
Cod is probably most well known for its culinary properties, as it is quite nutritious and can be used in a wide variety of recipes- in fact the Portuguese boast that they can prepare a different cod dish for every day of the year.
Atlantic Cod are commonly found close to shore as they tend to feed along the ground. The distinctive barbel on the lower jaw is used as a food detector of sorts. It contains microscopic taste receptors which allow the fish to do a taste test before ingesting its prey.