capelin n : very small northern fish; forage for sea birds and marine mammals and other fishes [syn: capelan, caplin]
- This article is about the fish. For the plant genus, see Mallotus (plant).
The capelin, Mallotus villosus, is a small fish of the smelt family found in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. In summer, it grazes on dense swarms of plankton at the edge of the ice shelf. Larger capelin also eats a great deal of krill and other crustaceans. Whales, seals, cod, squid, mackerel, beluga whales and seabirds all prey on capelin in particular during the spawning season of the capelin while it migrates southwards. Capelin spawns on sandy beaches and sandy bottom at the age of 2-6 years, and has an extremely high mortality rate on the beaches after spawning, for males close to 100% mortality. Females reach 20 cm in length, while males are up to 25 cm long. They are olive-colored dorsally, shading to silver on sides. Males have a translucent ridge on both sides of their bodies. The ventral aspects of the females iridesce reddish at the time of spawn.
In years with large quantities of herring in the Barents Sea, capelin seems to be heavily affected. Probably both food competition and herring feeding on capelin larvae lead to collapses in the capelin stock.
Commercially capelin is used for fish meal and oil industry products, but is also appreciated as food. The flesh is agreeable in flavor, resembling herring. Capelin roe ("masago") is considered as a high value product, particularly in Japan. It is also commonly mixed with wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and sold as "wasabi caviar."
Capelin is essential as the key food of the Atlantic cod. The North-East Atlantic Cod and Capelin fisheries therefore are managed by a multi-species approach developed by the main resource owners Norway and Russia.
In the province of Newfoundland in Canada, it is a regular summertime practice to go to the beach and scoop the capelin up in nets or whatever is available, as the capelin "roll in" in the millions each year at end of June or early July.
Capelin moves inshore in large schools to spawn and migrates in spring and summer to feed in the plankton-rich oceanic area between Iceland, Greenland, and Jan Mayen. Capelin distribution and migration is linked with ocean currents and water masses. Around Iceland maturing capelin usually undertake extensive northward feeding migrations in spring and summer and the return migration takes place in September to November. The spawning migration starts from north of Iceland in December to January.
capelin in Danish: Lodde
capelin in German: Lodde
capelin in French: Capelan
capelin in Icelandic: Loðna
capelin in Lithuanian: Stintenė
capelin in Hungarian: Csuklyás hal
capelin in Dutch: Lodde
capelin in Japanese: カラフトシシャモ
capelin in Norwegian: Lodde
capelin in Polish: Mallotus
capelin in Russian: Мойва
capelin in Finnish: Villakuore
capelin in Swedish: Lodda