Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) > Clupeiformes
(Herrings) > Clupeidae
(Herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens)
Etymology: Sardinella: Latin and Greek, sarda = sardine; name related to the island of Sardinia; diminutive (Ref. 45335). More on author: Valenciennes.
Environment / Climate / Range
Marine; brackish; reef-associated; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 350 m (Ref. 5286). Subtropical; 24°C - ? (Ref. 54867); 47°N - 40°S, 98°W - 43°E (Ref. 54867)
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 14.4, range 14 - 21.5 cm
Max length : 31.0 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 3259); common length : 25.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 188); max. published weight: 229 g (Ref. 5217); max. reported age: 7 years (Ref. 839)
soft rays: 12 - 23. Usually sub-cylindrical, but sometimes a little compressed; belly rather rounded but scutes apparent. Lower gill rakers fine and numerous, more than 80 (162 to 248 in West African specimens of 23 to 28 cm SL); anterior gill rakers on lower limbs of second and third gill arches lying more or less flat (strongly curled in S. brasiliensis). The pelvic fin ray count of 8 distinguishes it from all other species of Sardinella, Harengula, Opisthonema, Herklotsichthys and Amblygaster that occur with it. Resembles Clupea but has two fleshy outgrowths along outer margin of gill opening and numerous fine fronto-parietal striae on top of head. Flanks silvery with a faint golden mid-lateral line; a faint golden spot behind gill opening; black spot at hind border of gill cover (Ref. 188). Back bluish gray, sometimes greenish. Sides silvery to brassy, without spots or streaks. Body very slender. Scales deciduous (Ref. 7251).
Eastern Atlantic: Gibraltar to Saldanha Bay, South Africa. Also known from the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Western Atlantic: Cape Cod, USA to Argentina. Bahamas, Antilles, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean coast (Ref. 26938).
Schools in coastal waters from inshore to edge of shelf. Prefers clear saline water with a minimum temperature below 24°C. Juveniles tend to stay in nursery areas, but on maturity rejoin adult stocks offshore. Strongly migratory, often rising to surface at night and dispersing. Feeds mainly on zooplankton, especially copepods. Juveniles take phytoplankton (Ref. 27121). Breeds perhaps throughout the year, but with distinct peaks. In some areas there are two main spawning periods. Marketed fresh or canned (Ref. 188). Trematode found in intestinal tract (Ref. 37032).
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; bait: usually
Estimates of some properties based on empirical models
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 0.5000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.00671 (-0.03087 - 0.04429), b=3.05 (3.04 - 3.07), based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic Level (Ref. 69278
): 3.4 ±0.5 se; Based on diet studies.
Resilience (Ref. 69278
): High, minimum population doubling time less than 15 months (K=0.25-1.2; tm=1; tmax=7).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate vulnerability (36 of 100) .