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May 19, 2022

Capelin, a small forage fish, are spawning on beaches around Alaska and your observations can contribute to our understanding of beach spawning behavior and the health of marine ecosystems.

Forage fish are small pelagic schooling fish that play a key role in transferring energy between plankton and top marine predators. Many seabirds, marine mammals, and commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries depend on forage fish to grow and survive. Seabirds, and their forage fish prey, serve as practical indicators of change in the marine environment— natural or human induced— and can be readily monitored at sea. USGS continues to study changes in the body condition of a key forage fish species.

More information below on how you can help.

Wanted: Information about capelin spawning on beaches in Alaska

  • Capelin are prey for seabirds, marine mammals, and commercially important fish such as salmon.
  • Capelin smell like cucumbers, and they spawn on beaches from May through September.

The USGS Alaska Science Center is interested in your observations to help understand timing and locations of beach spawning and requesting one or both of the following:

  • Information: including location (latitude and longitude), date, time, and photos of capelin beach spawning events around coastal AK
  • Samples: up to 200 freshly dead fish (about ½ gallon ziplock) frozen if it’s safe to collect them on the beach

Please contact Mayumi Arimitsu, with any information or questions you may have.

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