of or pertaining to the open seas or oceans.
living or growing at or near the surface of the ocean, far from land, as certain organisms.
Compare neritic, oceanic.

1650–60; < Latin pelagicus < Greek pelagikós, equivalent to pélag(os) the sea + -ikos -ic

nonpelagic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
pelagic (pɛˈlædʒɪk)
1.  of or relating to the open sea: pelagic whaling
2.  (of marine life) living or occurring in the upper waters of open sea
3.  (of geological formations) derived from material that has fallen to the bottom from the upper waters of the sea
[C17: from Latin pelagicus, from pelagus, from Greek pelagos sea]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"pertaining to the sea," 1656, from L. pelagicus, from Gk. pelagikos, from pelagos "sea," from PIE *p(e)lag- "to spread out" (cf. Gk. plagos "side," L. plaga "hunting net, curtain, region"), from base *pele- "spread out, flat" (see plane (1)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
pelagic   (pə-lāj'ĭk)  Pronunciation Key 
Relating to or living in or on oceanic waters. The pelagic zone of the ocean begins at the low tide mark and includes the entire oceanic water column. The pelagic ecosystem is largely dependent on the phytoplankton inhabiting the upper, sunlit regions, where most ocean organisms live. Biodiversity decreases sharply in the unlit zones where water pressure is high, temperatures are cold, and food sources scarce. Pelagic waters are divided, in descending order, into the epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic, abyssopelagic, and hadopelagic zones.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
And sharks that range across the open ocean, known as oceanic or pelagic
  sharks, have been an even bigger mystery.
But research had yet to probe the extent to which human-made noise might be
  affecting other pelagic species.
Model for the adaptive radiations and extinctions of pelagic marine mammals.
Pelagic species such as marlin, sailfish and sharks are drawn to the area to
  feed and mate.
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