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TREASURE SEAS

Capelin

Mallotus villosus (Miiller)

The capelin or caplin, Mallotus villosus, is a small forage 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 eat 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 spawn on sandy beaches and sandy bottom at the age of 26 years, and have an extremely high mortality rate on the beaches after spawning, for males close to 100% mortality. Males reach 20 cm in length, while females 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 males iridescent reddish at the time of spawn.