Forage fish

Forage fish (or forage fishes) are small schooling fish that form a critical link in the marine food web between zooplankton and larger fish and wildlife consumers. They occupy every marine and estuarine nearshore habitat in Washington, and much of the intertidal and shallow subtidal areas of the Puget Sound Basin are used by these species for spawning habitat. Status of forage fish populations can be an indicator of the health and productivity of nearshore systems (PSP 2009). Information on forage fish life history, distribution, and habitat preferences is summarized in Marine Forage Fishes of Puget Sound (Penttila 2007) and the Forage Fish Management Plan (Bargmann 1998).

The three most common forage fish species in the Puget Sound basin are Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi), surf smelt (Hypomesus pretiosus), and Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes hexapterus).

Source: Puget Sound Science Review.

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). Image courtesy of NOAA.

OVERVIEW

Forage fish in Puget Sound

Forage fish occupy every marine and estuarine nearshore habitat in Washington, and much of the intertidal and shallow subtidal areas of the Puget Sound Basin are used by these species for spawning habitat.

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