One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small fish of the North Atlantic, resembling a smelt. It is abundant in coastal waters and provides a staple food for humans and many animals.
Mallotus villosus, family Osmeridae
- ‘For instance, WWF Norway says it is concerned about the impact of the crab - which has no natural enemies in Arctic waters - on the capelin, a fish considered central to the Barents Sea food chain.’
- ‘Like the capelin, these fish aggregate close to shore, then a female and associated males ride a wave to very shallow water, where they spawn on a fine gravel beach.’
- ‘Larger salmon eat a variety of fishes such as herring and alewives, smelts, capelin, small mackerel, sand lace, and small cod.’
- ‘They carry one capelin, herring, or sand lance at a time to the chicks, making about 16 trips a day.’
- ‘In Alaska's Bering Sea, capelin, herring and other coldwater fish have been in decline, while warmer water creatures like albacore and ocean sunfish have made their appearance.’
Early 17th century: from French, from Provençal capelan, from medieval Latin cappellanus ‘custodian’ (see chaplain).
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