Life History/Biology

" Pelagic" species live in the water column as opposed to living near the sea floor. Coastal pelagic species are schooling fish that migrate in coastal waters and can be found anywhere from the surface to 1,000 meters(547 fathoms) deep. They usually eat plankton and are a food source for higher level predators such as marine mammals, birds, and larger fish.

'Species such as anchovy, sardine,jack mackerel, pacific mackerel , and hake can form the largest fish populations and , along with krill, are key to the California Current ecosystem. Anchovies and sardines are the only fish in the ecosystem that consumes large quantities of phytoplankton. Excluding krill, all coastal pelagic species are significant consumers of zooplankton. These species of fish, particularly mackerels, hake, and squid are important predators of the early stages of fish. The juvenile stages of all five species, and in many cases the adults, are important as forage for seabirds, seals and sea lions, dolphins, and other fish.

Specific trophic (relating to feeding and nutrition) interactions between coastal pelagic species and higher trophic level fish are difficult to understand, and it is unknown if populations of individuals predaceous fish are enhanced or hindered by large populations of coastal pelagics species. It is not known if the value of coastal pelagic species as forage to adult predators outweighs the negative effects of predaton by coastal pelagic species on predator's larvae and juveniles plus competitive removal of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and other fish.


For more information on Coastal Pelagic Species, contact Joshua Lindsay at or 562.980.4034.
For more information or questions on Permits, contact our Permits Coordinator at 562.980.4024.