Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Clupeiformes
(Herrings) > Clupeidae
(Herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens)
Etymology: Clupea: Latin, clupea = sardine, derived from Clupeus = shield; doubtless a reference to the scales covering the body of the fish + Greek, odous = teeth (Ref. 45335). More on author: Linnaeus.
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; brackish; benthopelagic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 364 m (Ref. 58426), usually 0 - 200 m (Ref. 6683). Temperate; 1°C - 18°C (Ref. 188); 80°N - 33°N, 79°W - 70°E
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 16.7  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 45.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 37032); common length : 30.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 37032); max. published weight: 1.1 kg (Ref. 6114); max. reported age: 25 years (Ref. 89560)
soft rays: 12 - 23;
Vertebrae: 51 - 60. Slender fish with a round belly. Scutes without prominent keel; 12 to 16 post-pelvic scutes (Ref. 188). No median notch in upper jaw; operculum without radiating bony striae; the posterior border of its gill opening is evenly rounded. It is blue to greenish-blue dorsally, becoming silvery ventrally. No distinctive dark spots on the body or fins (Ref. 188).
North Atlantic: in the west, it ranges from southwestern Greenland and Labrador southward to South Carolina, USA. In the east, it ranges from Iceland and southern Greenland southward to the northern Bay of Biscay and eastward to Spitsbergen and Novaya Zemlya in Russia, including the Baltic Sea (Ref. 188).
Herring schools move between spawning and wintering grounds in coastal areas and feeding grounds in open water by following migration patterns learned from earlier year classes (Ref. 88171). Juveniles (up to 2 years) shoal close inshore, while adults are found more offshore (Ref. 6683). Adults spend the day in deeper water, but rise to shallower water at night (Ref. 89562). Light is an important factor in controlling their vertical distribution. A facultative zooplanktivorous filter-feeder, i.e., it can switch to filter-feeding if the food density and particle size are appropriate (Ref. 28664). Feed mainly on copepods finding food by visual sense. Herring schools often attract predators such as fish, birds, and marine mammals (Ref. 89563). Schooling, silvery sides, excellent hearing (capable of detecting frequencies between 30-4,000 Hz , Refs. 89391, 89564, 89566), and very fast escape response act as anti-predator devices (Ref. 28664). The most important races in the East Atlantic are the winter-spawning Norwegian and Icelandic herring, the autumn spawning Icelandic and North Sea herring and the Baltic Sea herring. Utilized fresh, dried or salted, smoked, canned and frozen; can be fried, broiled, microwaved and baked (Ref. 9988).
Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 7. Clupeoid fishes of the world (suborder Clupeioidei). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the herrings, sardines, pilchards, sprats, shads, anchovies and wolf-herrings. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(7/1):1-303. Rome: FAO.
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 90363)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes
Estimates of some properties based on empirical models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5625 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00718 (-0.01321 - 0.02757), b=3.05 (3.04 - 3.06), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.2 ±0.4 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (rm=0.5-1.2; K=0.2-0.6; tm=2-5; tmax=25; Fec=20,000).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Low to moderate vulnerability (34 of 100) .