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New Inventory of Arctic Fish Species

Arctic Cod, a small, ice-affiliated forage fish, is the most abundant marine fish and is an important link in marine food webs.

A new report by the US Geological Survey and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has confirmed 20 new species of fish found in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

The report additionally lists 104 new descriptions, complete with distribution maps, life cycle schematics for all 109 fish. The study area includes US marine waters to the north of Bering Strait.

USGS hopes the information will assist planners with managing fish populations. Priority species include those that are used in subsistence activities or that are important to the functioning of marine ecosystems, such as Arctic Cod.

“Alaska’s rapidly changing climate is affecting the region’s ecology and economic opportunities in the Arctic,” said Lyman Thorsteinson, a scientist with the USGS. “The physical and biological qualities of hospitable marine habitats are developing in warming Arctic waters, and, with respect to human developments, previously ice-covered areas are opening and becoming accessible to new exploration.”

The research was conducted by investigators from the USGS and University of California Santa Barbara and summarises what is known about the natural history of each species and explores the adaptations and limitations of fish populations to Arctic environments.

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