Eulachon are a small, anadromous fish (moving between freshwater and saltwater) and are found from northern California to southwest Alaska. The southern distinct population segment is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Eulachon have many other names—smelt, hooligan, oolichan, and candlefish. "Candlefish" because eulachon, when dried, can be lit and used like a candle. First Nation people called eulachon "salvation" fish because the return of spawning runs to coastal rivers meant the difference between life and starvation after a hard winter. Native people continue to fish for eulachon by traditional methods for use as an important subsistence food and medicine.
NOAA Fisheries is committed to conserving and protecting eulachon. Our scientists and partners use a variety of innovative techniques to study, learn more about, and protect this species.
- Southern DPS