Lingcod normally lay their eggs in cracks and crevices on rocky reefs and other rocky areas. It turns out that the articial features of the EUWP also provide good lingcod nesting habitat.If you dive in the EUWP during the period from late November to April, you will likely spot some lingcod eggs and you will likely see a fish guarding the eggs.
Male lingcod select and guard nest sites. Once a male fish has established its nesting territory it is referred to as a guard fish. During the spawning or nesting season, a guard fish tries to attract female fish and have them lay their eggs at his nest site. This may result in multiple egg masses being laid at one nest site, where one egg mass is defined as a contiguous cluster of eggs. The ongoing Edmonds Lingcod Nesting Census identifies and tracks lingcod nesting sites and egg masses and marks the site with
Once a guard fish has been able to claim a good nesting site as its territory, it will return to that site year after year as long as it is able to spawn. The guard fish start to occupy the nesting sites as early as September and will defend their sites from other male lingcod. Once all of the prime nesting sites have been taken, younger and smaller males will establish nest sites at less desirable locations but are not likely to return to these sites in subsequent years.
The color of the lingcod eggs changes over time. Fresh eggs are pink to pearl colored, becoming white after a week or so, and gradually turning brownish and finally gray as the eggs mature. Eye spots become visible as the larvae develop. The texture of the egg mass changes as well.
Here’s what a new nest looks like. The color is white, with some pearl/orange tint to the eggs. These are about a week old. .
Here’s an egg mass that is about a week from hatching. Notice how grey it has become.