Polar Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 12, pp 1959–1971 | Cite as

The aggregation of polar cod (Boreogadus saida) in the deep Atlantic layer of ice-covered Amundsen Gulf (Beaufort Sea) in winter

  • Maxime GeoffroyEmail author
  • Dominique Robert
  • Gérald Darnis
  • Louis Fortier
Original Paper


During the Circumpolar Flaw Lead System Study (CFL, 2007–2008), large aggregations of polar cod were detected in winter in the Amundsen Gulf (Western Canadian Arctic) using the EK60 echosounder of the CCGS Amundsen research icebreaker. Biomass estimated over 10 months reached a maximum of 0.732 kg m−2 in February. Aggregations were encountered only in the presence of an ice cover from December to April. The vertical extent of the aggregations was dictated by temperature and zooplankton prey distribution. In winter, polar cod generally occupied the relatively warm deep Atlantic Layer (>0°C), but a fraction of the densest aggregations occasionally followed zooplankton prey up into the cold Pacific Halocline (−1.6 to 0°C). The diel vertical migration of polar cod was precisely synchronized with the seasonally increasing photoperiod. Throughout winter, polar cod aggregations migrated to progressively deeper regions (from 220 to 550 m bottom depths) in response to increasing light intensity, presumably to avoid predation by visual predators such as the ringed seal. Comparing Amundsen Gulf and Franklin Bay indicates that the entrapment of polar cod in embayments during winter is an important mechanism to provide marine mammal predators with dense concentrations of their main prey within their diving range.


Polar cod Hydroacoustics Migration Sea ice Photoperiod Mesozooplankton 



We thank the officers and crew of the CCGS Amundsen for their dedication and professionalism. Several technicians and colleagues also contributed to the collection of hydroacoustic data used in the present study. Special thanks to Y. Simard and D. Benoit for help in the processing of acoustic data. We are also grateful to T.N. Papakyriakou and Y. Gratton who provided PAR and CTD data, respectively. The manuscript was substantially improved by comments from R. Crawford, H. Hop and an anonymous reviewer. Funding for the CFL program and this study was provided by the Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) program office, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) Program, the Network of Centres of Excellence ArcticNet, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). This is a contribution to Québec-Océan and the Canada Research Chair on the response of marine arctic ecosystems to climate warming at Université Laval.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maxime Geoffroy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dominique Robert
    • 1
  • Gérald Darnis
    • 1
  • Louis Fortier
    • 1
  1. 1.Québec-Océan, Département de biologieUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

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