Capelin Fish (Lat. Mallotus Villosus)

capelin fishA member of the smelt family, the capelin fish 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.

OTHER NAMES:

Danish/Dutch/German/ Norwegian: lodde;
French: capelin atlantique;
Japanese: karafuto-shishamo.

Identification of Capelin Fish

The 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/Age of Capelin Fish

Capelin may reach a size of 9 inches, although they are usually less than 7 inches long.

Life history/Behavior

Between 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 habits

Capelin feed primarily on planktonic crustaceans.

Distribution

Capelin are found in the North Atlantic, especially in the Barents Sea up to Beard Island; in the White and the Norwegian Seas; off the coast of Greenland; and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Maine. In the North Pacific, their range extends from Korea to the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Vancouver Island, Canada, and Washington, U.S.

Habitat

Inhabiting saltwater, capelin are pelagic and live in the open seas.