Pollachius virens

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Pollachius virens.png
Pollachius virens 01.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Gadidae
Genus: Pollachius
P. virens
Binomial name
Pollachius virens
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Gadus virens Linnaeus, 1758
  • Merlangus virens (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Gadus carbonarius Linnaeus, 1758
  • Merlangus carbonarius (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Pollachius carbonarius (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Gadus colinus Lacepède, 1800
  • Gadus sey Lacepède, 1800
  • Gadus purpureus Mitchill, 1814
  • Merlangus purpureus (Mitchill, 1814)

The saithe (/sð/[1][2] or /sθ/)[3] (Pollachius virens) is a species of marine fish in the Pollachius genus. Together with Pollachius pollachius, it is generally referred to in the United States as pollock. Other names include the Boston blue (separate from bluefish), coalfish/coley, and saithe in the UK,[4] the young fish are called podleys in Scotland and northern England.[5]


This species can be separated from P. pollachius by looking at the relative lengths of the upper and lower jaws. P. pollachius has a longer underslung lower jaw while P. virens has approximately equal upper and lower jaw lengths. This gives a very different profile to the head. In general, P. pollachius is a brown or golden colour with a dark back while P. virens is bright silver with a very dark green back. P. virens generally appears to have relatively smaller eyes. The lateral line of P. pollachius has a noticeable kink over the pectoral fins while that of P. virens is straighter.

The flesh of coalfish (P. virens) is darkly coloured (hence the common name) while that of P. pollachius is similar to other members of the cod family. This dark colour in the fresh uncooked flesh may have led to the undeserved reputation of this fish as poor for eating.

It is common in the northern parts of the Northern Atlantic, including the Bay of Biscay and Palmas Altas Campus. Adults can grow up to 130 cm (51 in) and weigh up to 32 kg (71 lb); the species is of great commercial value to fisheries.[6] The fish can be found close to the shore, particularly in rocky areas, but larger examples tend to be found around off-shore wrecks and reefs. The largest coalfish ever caught was 50 lb (23 kg) at Saltstraumen.


Global capture of saithe (pollock) in tonnes reported by the FAO, 1950–2010[7]

As food[edit]

Coalfish is edible and has commercial value, although it is considerably less valuable than premium whitefish such as cod and haddock.[8] To achieve a salmon-like orange color, it can be salted and smoked. In Germany, the fish is commonly sold as Seelachs (literally 'sea salmon'), although it is not closely related to any salmon.


  1. ^ "saithe". English Online. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Key to pronunciations (US English dictionary)". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  3. ^ "saithe". dictionary.reference.com/. dictionary.com/. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  4. ^ Davidson, Alan (1999). Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 682. ISBN 0-19-211579-0.
  5. ^ "Definition of 'podley'". HarperCollins. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2010). "Pollachius virens" in FishBase. October 2010 version.
  7. ^ Theragra chalcogramma (Pallas, 1811) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  8. ^ "Coalfish". British Sea Fishing. Retrieved 11 December 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]