Blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



The blue whiting, Micromesistius poutassou, is a streamline fish that may reach a maximum length of 50 cm. It has a slender silver-coloured body with a slightly bluish dorsal tint. It has three widely spaced dorsal fins. A lateral line is present and runs the full length of the body. It has a conspicuously forked tail. It has notably large eyes.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found off western and northern Scotland, in the north sea and off the southern and western coasts of Ireland and the British Isles.

Global distribution



Being oceanic and benthopelagic, Micromesistius poutassou inhabits the continental slope and shelf down to a depth of 150 m to more than 1000 m. It may make daily nocturnal vertical migrations to the surface.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Slender body up to 50 cm in length.
  • Three widely spaced dorsal fins.
  • Space between second and third dorsal fins is longer than the base length of first dorsal fin.
  • Full length lateral line.
  • A small dark blotch is sometimes visible at the base of the pectoral fin.
  • No barbel is present.

Additional information

No text entered


  1. Cohen, D.M., Inada, T., Iwamoto, T. & Scialabba, N., 1990. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 10. Gadiform Fishes of the World. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and Other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Fisheries Synopsies, 125

  2. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2008-02-18

  3. Gordon, J.D.M., 1977. The fish populations of inshore waters of the west coast of Scotland. The unusual occurrence of the blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou) and some notes on its biology. Journal of Fish Biology, 11, 121-124

  4. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. Whitehead, P.J.P., Bauchot, M.-L., Hureau, J.-C., Nielson, J. & Tortonese, E. 1986. Fishes of the North-eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Vol. I, II & III. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-07-22


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Micromesistius poutassou Blue whiting. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 22-07-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 25/03/2008