British Wildlife Wiki

Merlangius merlangus, commonly known as Whiting is an important food fish in the eastern North Atlantic, northern Mediterranean, western Baltic, and Black Sea. In English speaking countries outside the whiting's natural range, the name has been applied to various other species of fish.

Manx Whiting 2006

Whiting - Dave Park

Until the later twentieth century, whiting was a cheap fish, regarded as food for the poor or for pets, but the general decline in fish stocks means that it is now more highly valued. The other fish that have been given the name whiting are mostly also food fish.


Belongs to the Cod family, but has a more slender build than either Cod or Haddock. The body has three dorsal and two anal fins. First anal fin starts vertically beneath the centre of the first dorsal fin, and finishes level with the end of the second dorsal fin. The pectoral fin has a small but distinct black spot at it's base.

The body colouration is divided, with the upper part often taking a golden olive green hue, and the sides and belly, a silvery sheen with a very pale bluish white. Lateral line tends to divide the colouration, and is itself a pale brown.

The upper jaw is longer than the lower, and normally lacks a barbel on the chin (except for very young fish (<5mm in length), in which it is very small.). The mouth tends to be large in relation to head size.


Spawning normally occurs March to April in 100m of water. Fry are 3.4mm in size, and show adult characteristics by the time they reach 25mm in length. Small whiting (30mm) are often found in close association with jellyfish of the upper water column... it is thought that this may afford protection to the small fish, whilst aiding their abilities to ambush potential prey. Growth is fairly rapid with 17cm in the first year, and 25cm in their second. Maturity is also reached in their second spring... May live between 5-8years


Whiting tend to be mid to bottom water feeders in depths of 20 to 150m (although juveniles often in shallower water), found in shoals often over sand or sandy mud / gravel.


Plankton and crustacean larvae when very young, moving onto krill and shrimp.... this extends to prawn, crab, amphipods, gobies, and sandeels as they get bigger. Large whiting have a wider diet to include small herring, sprats, sandeels, and small whiting.


English Channel, North Sea, Irish Sea

Additional Notes[]

Good to Fair eating...... flesh easily tainted, and should be gutted straight away to maintain it's delicate flavour.


The Aquarium Project