Similar to terrestrial environments, marine environments experience short-term pulses in prey availability. Many marine vertebrates (seabirds, whales, and sea lions to name a few) regulary seek out and exploit these pulses of energetic prey.
Forage fishes (small schooling fish) are a type of high energy prey important not only for marine mammals and seabirds, but for other marine fish and invertebrates. In Alaska, forage fishes such as eulachon (Thaleichthys pacificus), Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), and Pacific capelin (Mallotus villosus) serve an important link in the marine ecosystem. Forage fish transfer energy in the marine food web by consuming plankton (the primary producers in the ocean) and becoming food themselves for top predators. Forage fish occupy an important central position in the food web in the ocean.