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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

European Smelt Osmerus eperlanus

The European smelt is a small relation of salmon and trout and, like them, has a dorsal fin and an adipose, the latter of which is small and fatty. The name derives from the fact that, when fresh, this fish has a strong smell that is reminiscent of cucumber. Adults swim in shoals in inshore waters, hunting small crustaceans and fish. European smelt migrate up rivers to spawn, and the young fish are common in sheltered estuaries such as the Wash in southeast England (see Madagascar Mangroves).

European Smelt habitat mapzoom image
  • Order Osmeriformes
  • Length 18 in (45 cm)
  • Weight Not recorded
  • Depth To 160 ft (50 m)
  • Distribution Temperate waters of northeastern Atlantic and Baltic Sea