A member of the smelt family, the capelin is an important food ﬁsh for cod, pollock, salmon, seabirds, and whales. It has commercial value; females are prized for their roe, and the meat is used as animal feed and ﬁsh meal. Like other smelt in ﬂavor and texture, it is an excellent table ﬁsh, marketed canned and frozen and prepared by frying and dry salting.
IdentificationThe capelin has a large mouth with a lower jaw that extends below each eye. Males have larger and deeper bodies than do females; also, the male has an anal ﬁn with a strongly convex base, whereas the female has a straight anal ﬁn base. Both sexes possess a single dorsal ﬁn and extremely small scales. The body is mostly silver, and the upper back is a darker bluish-green.
Size/AgeCapelin may reach a size of 9 inches, although they are usually less than 7 inches long.
Life history/BehaviorBetween March and October, capelin move inshore in large schools to spawn in shallow saltwater areas over ﬁne gravel or on sand beaches; however, some may spawn at great depths. Spawning occurs more than once, and each female produces between 3,000 and 56,000 eggs; these are released at high tide and hatch in 2 to 3 weeks.
Food and feeding habitsCapelin feed primarily on planktonic crustaceans.
Other NamesDanish/Dutch/German/Norwegian: lodde; French: capelin atlantique; Japanese: karafuto-shishamo.
|Huge amount of capelin|