SUMMARY: Monthly bacterial counts over a 2-year period provided evidence of a seasonal variation in the numbers of bacteria on the skin of North Sea cod. The variations appeared to be connected with plankton outbursts. The temperature of the sea did not have any great effect, except that the proportion of the population capable of growth at 0° was highest when the sea temperature was at its lowest. The composition of the bacterial flora, determined by isolation of colonies from count plates after incubation at 20°, was: 44%, 32%, 9%, 6%, 6%, 1%, miscellaneous 2%. When isolations were made after incubation at 0°, strains of the last four genera were less frequently encountered. Some evidence was also obtained of a seasonal variation in the qualitative composition of the flora, and luminous strains appearing more frequently in the winter while strains increased in the summer. The flora of cod is similar to those of other species of North Sea fish examined by earlier workers; the species of the fish does not appear to play an important role in determining the composition of the skin flora.


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