Herring are forage fish, mostly belonging to the family of Clupeidae.
Herring often move in large schools around fishing banks and near the coast, found particularly in shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans, including the Baltic Sea, as well as off the west coast of South America. Three species of Clupea (the type genus of the herring family Clupeidae) are recognised, and provide about 90% of all herrings captured in fisheries. The most abundant of all is the Atlantic herring, providing over half of all herring capture. Fish called herring are also found in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and Bay of Bengal.
Herring played a pivotal role in the history of marine fisheries in Europe,and early in the 20th century, their study was fundamental to the evolution of fisheries science. These oily fish also have a long history as an important food fish, and are often salted, smoked, or pickled.
Herring are also known as "silver darlings".
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A number of different species, most belonging to the family Clupeidae, are commonly referred to as herrings. The origins of the term "herring" is somewhat unclear, though it may derive from the Old High German heri meaning a "host, multitude", in reference to the large schools they form.
The type genus of the herring family Clupeidae is Clupea .Clupea contains only two species: the Atlantic herring (the type species) found in the North Atlantic, and the Pacific herring mainly found in the North Pacific. Subspecific divisions have been suggested for both the Atlantic and Pacific herrings, but their biological basis remains unclear.
|Herrings in the genus Clupea|
|Common name||Scientific name||Maximum|
|Atlantic herring||Clupea harengusLinnaeus, 1758||45.0 cm||30.0 cm||1.05 kg||22 years||3.23||Least concern|
|Pacific herring||Clupea pallasiiValenciennes, 1847||46.0 cm||25.0 cm||19 years||3.15||Not assessed|
In addition, a number of related species, all in the Clupeidae, are commonly referred to as herrings. The table immediately below includes those members of the family Clupeidae referred to by FishBase as herrings which have been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
|Other herrings in the family Clupeidae|
|Group||Common name||Scientific name||Maximum|
|Freshwater herrings||Toothed river herring||Clupeoides papuensis(Ramsay & Ogilby, 1886)||cm||cm||kg||years||Data deficient|
|Round herrings||Day's round herring||Dayella malabarica(Day, 1873)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Dwarf round herring||Jenkinsia lamprotaenia(Gosse, 1851)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Gilchrist's round herring||Gilchristella aestuaria(Gilchrist, 1913||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Little-eye round herring||Jenkinsia majuaWhitehead, 1963||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Red-eye round herring||Etrumeus teres(De Kay, 1842)||33 cm||25 cm||kg||years||Not assessed|
|Two-finned round herring||Spratellomorpha bianalis(Bertin, 1940)||4.5 cm||cm||kg||years||3.11||Data deficient|
|Whitehead's round herring||Etrumeus whiteheadi(Wongratana, 1983)||20 cm||cm||kg||years||3.4||Least concern|
|Venezuelan herring||Jenkinsia parvulaCervigón and Velasquez, 1978||cm||cm||kg||years||Vulnerable|
|Thread herrings||Galapagos thread herring||Opisthonema berlangai(Günther, 1867)||26 cm||18 cm||kg||years||3.27||Vulnerable|
|Middling thread herring||Opisthonema medirastreBerry & Barrett, 1963||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Pacific thread herring||Opisthonema libertate(Günther, 1867)||30 cm||22 cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Slender thread herring||Opisthonema bulleri(Regan, 1904)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Other||Araucanian herring||Strangomera bentincki(Norman, 1936)||28.4 cm||cm||kg||years||2.69||Not assessed|
|Blackstripe herring||Lile nigrofasciataCastro-Aguirre Ruiz-Campos and Balart, 2002||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Denticle herring||Denticeps clupeoidesClausen, 1959||cm||cm||kg||years||Vulnerable|
|Dogtooth herring||Chirocentrodon bleekerianus(Poey, 1867)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Graceful herring||Lile gracilisCastro-Aguirre and Vivero, 1990||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Pacific Flatiron herring||Harengula thrissina(Jordan and Gilbert, 1882)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Sanaga pygmy herring||Thrattidion noctivagusRoberts, 1972||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Silver-stripe round herring||Spratelloides gracilis(Temminck & Schlegel, 1846)||10.5 cm||cm||kg||years||3.0||Not assessed|
|Striped herring||Lile stolifera(Jordan & Gilbert, 1882)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|West African pygmy herring||Sierrathrissa leonensisThys van den Audenaerde, 1969||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
Also, a number of other species are called herrings, which may be related to clupeids or just share some characteristics of herrings (such as the lake herring, which is a salmonid). Just which of these species are called herrings can vary with locality, so what might be called a herring in one locality might be called something else in another locality. Some examples:
|Other fishes called herring|
|Common name||Scientific name||Maximum|
|Longfin herring||Bigeyed longfin herring||Opisthopterus macrops(Günther, 1867)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Dove's longfin herring||Opisthopterus dovii(Günther 1868)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Hatchet herring||Ilisha fuerthii(Steindachner, 1875)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Panama longfin herring||Odontognathus panamensis(Steindachner, 1876)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Tropical longfin herring||Neoopisthopterus tropicus(Hildebrand 1946)||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Vaqueira longfin herring||Opisthopterus effulgens(Regan 1903)||cm||cm||kg||years||Vulnerable|
|Equatorial longfin herring||Opisthopterus equatorialisHildebrand, 1946||cm||cm||kg||years||Least concern|
|Wolf herring||Dorab wolf-herring||Chirocentrus dorab(Forsskål, 1775)||100 cm||60 cm||kg||years||4.50||Not assessed|
|Whitefin wolf-herring||Chirocentrus nudusSwainson, 1839||100 cm||cm||0.41 kg||years||4.19||Not assessed|
|Freshwater whitefish||Lake herring (cisco)||Coregonus artediLesueur, 1818||cm||cm||kg||years||Not assessed|
The species of Clupea belong to the larger family Clupeidae (herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens), which comprises some 200 species that share similar features. These silvery-coloured fish have a single dorsal fin, which is soft, without spines. They have no lateral line and have a protruding lower jaw. Their size varies between subspecies: the Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras) is small, 14 to 18 cm; the proper Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus harengus) can grow to about 46 cm (18 in) and weigh up 700 g (1.5 lb); and Pacific herring grow to about 38 cm (15 in).
At least one stock of Atlantic herring spawns in every month of the year. Each spawns at a different time and place (spring, summer, autumn, and winter herrings). Greenland populations spawn in 0–5 metres (0–16 feet) of water, while North Sea (bank) herrings spawn at down to 200 m (660 ft) in autumn. Eggs are laid on the sea bed, on rock, stones, gravel, sand or beds of algae. Females may deposit from 20,000 to 40,000 eggs, according to age and size, averaging about 30,000. In sexually mature herring, the genital organs grow before spawning, reaching about one-fifth of its total weight.
The eggs sink to the bottom, where they stick in layers or clumps to gravel, seaweed, or stones, by means of their mucous coating, or to any other objects on which they chance to settle.
If the egg layers are too thick they suffer from oxygen depletion and often die, entangled in a maze of mucus. They need substantial water microturbulence, generally provided by wave action or coastal currents. Survival is highest in crevices and behind solid structures, because predators feast on openly exposed eggs. The individual eggs are 1 to 1.4 mm (3⁄64 to 1⁄16 in) in diameter, depending on the size of the parent fish and also on the local race. Incubation time is about 40 days at 3 °C (37 °F), 15 days at 7 °C (45 °F), or 11 days at 10 °C (50 °F). Eggs die at temperatures above 19 °C (66 °F).
The larvae are 5 to 6 mm (3⁄16 to 1⁄4 in) long at hatching, with a small yolk sac that is absorbed by the time the larvae reach 10 mm (13⁄32 in). Only the eyes are well pigmented. The rest of the body is nearly transparent, virtually invisible under water and in natural lighting conditions.
The dorsal fin forms at 15 to 17 mm (19⁄32 to 21⁄32 in), the anal fin at about 30 mm (1+3⁄16 in)—the ventral fins are visible and the tail becomes well forked at 30 to 35 mm (1+3⁄8 in)— at about 40 mm (1+9⁄16 in), the larva begins to look like a herring.
Herring larvae are very slender and can easily be distinguished from all other young fish of their range by the location of the vent, which lies close to the base of the tail; however, distinguishing clupeoids one from another in their early stages requires critical examination, especially telling herring from sprats.
At one year, they are about 10 cm (4 in) long, and they first spawn at three years.
Herrings consume copepods, arrow worms, pelagic amphipods, mysids, and krill in the pelagic zone. Conversely, they are a central prey item or forage fish for higher trophic levels. The reasons for this success are still enigmatic; one speculation attributes their dominance to the huge, extremely fast cruising schools they inhabit.
Herring feed on phytoplankton, and as they mature, they start to consume larger organisms. They also feed on zooplankton, tiny animals found in oceanic surface waters, and small fish and fish larvae. Copepods and other tiny crustaceans are the most common zooplankton eaten by herring. During daylight, herring stay in the safety of deep water, feeding at the surface only at night when the chance of being seen by predators is less. They swim along with their mouths open, filtering the plankton from the water as it passes through their gills. Young herring mostly hunt copepods individually, by means of "particulate feeding" or "raptorial feeding",a feeding method also used by adult herring on larger prey items like krill. If prey concentrations reach very high levels, as in microlayers, at fronts, or directly below the surface, herring become filter feeders, driving several meters forward with wide open mouth and far expanded opercula, then closing and cleaning the gill rakers for a few milliseconds.
Copepods, the primary zooplankton, are a major item on the forage fish menu. Copepods are typically 1–2 mm (1⁄32–3⁄32 in) long, with a teardrop-shaped body. Some scientists say they form the largest animal biomass on the planet. Copepods are very alert and evasive. They have large antennae (see photo below left). When they spread their antennae, they can sense the pressure wave from an approaching fish and jump with great speed over a few centimetres. If copepod concentrations reach high levels, schooling herrings adopt a method called ram feeding. In the photo below, herring ram feed on a school of copepods. They swim with their mouths wide open and their operculae fully expanded.
The fish swim in a grid where the distance between them is the same as the jump length of their prey, as indicated in the animation above right. In the animation, juvenile herring hunt the copepods in this synchronised way. The copepods sense with their antennae the pressure wave of an approaching herring and react with a fast escape jump. The length of the jump is fairly constant. The fish align themselves in a grid with this characteristic jump length. A copepod can dart about 80 times before it tires. After a jump, it takes it 60 milliseconds to spread its antennae again, and this time delay becomes its undoing, as the almost endless stream of herring allows a herring to eventually snap up the copepod. A single juvenile herring could never catch a large copepod.
Other pelagic prey eaten by herring includes fish eggs, larval snails, diatoms by herring larvae below 20 mm (13⁄16 in), tintinnids by larvae below 45 mm (1+3⁄4 in), molluscan larvae, menhaden larvae, krill, mysids, smaller fishes, pteropods, annelids, Calanus spp., Centropagidae, and Meganyctiphanes norvegica .
Herrings, along with Atlantic cod and sprat, are the most important commercial species to humans in the Baltic Sea.The analysis of the stomach contents of these fish indicate Atlantic cod is the top predator, preying on the herring and sprat. Sprat are competitive with herring for the same food resources. This is evident in the two species' vertical migration in the Baltic Sea, where they compete for the limited zooplankton available and necessary for their survival. Sprat are highly selective in their diet and eat only zooplankton, while herring are more eclectic, adjusting their diet as they grow in size. In the Baltic, copepods of the genus Acartia can be present in large numbers. However, they are small in size with a high escape response, so herring and sprat avoid trying to catch them. These copepods also tend to dwell more in surface waters, whereas herring and sprat, especially during the day, tend to dwell in deeper waters.
Predators of herring include seabirds, marine mammals such as dolphins, porpoises, whales, seals, and sea lions, predatory fish such as sharks, billfish, tuna, salmon, striped bass, cod, and halibut. Fishermen also catch and eat herring.
The predators often cooperate in groups, using different techniques to panic or herd a school of herring into a tight bait ball. Different predatory species then use different techniques to pick the fish off in the bait ball. The sailfish raises its sail to make it appear much larger. Swordfish charge at high speed through the bait balls, slashing with their swords to kill or stun prey. They then turn and return to consume their "catch". Thresher sharks use their long tails to stun the shoaling fish. These sharks compact their prey school by swimming around them and splashing the water with their tails, often in pairs or small groups. They then strike them sharply with the upper lobe of their tails to stun them.Spinner sharks charge vertically through the school, spinning on their axes with their mouths open and snapping all around. The sharks' momentum at the end of these spiraling runs often carries them into the air.
Some whales lunge feed on bait balls.Lunge feeding is an extreme feeding method, where the whale accelerates from below the bait ball to a high velocity and then opens its mouth to a large gape angle. This generates the water pressure required to expand its mouth and engulf and filter a huge amount of water and fish. Lunge feeding by rorquals, a family of huge baleen whales that includes the blue whale, is said to be the largest biomechanical event on Earth.
Adult herring are harvested for their flesh and eggs, and they are often used as baitfish. The trade in herring is an important sector of many national economies. In Europe, the fish has been called the "silver of the sea", and its trade has been so significant to many countries that it has been regarded as the most commercially important fishery in history.
Environmental Defense have suggested that the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) fishery is an environmentally responsible fishery.
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Herring has been a staple food source since at least 3000 BC. The fish is served numerous ways, and many regional recipes are used: eaten raw, fermented, pickled, or cured by other techniques, such as being smoked as kippers.
Herring are very high in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.They are a source of vitamin D.
Water pollution influences the amount of herring that may be safely consumed. For example, large Baltic herring slightly exceeds recommended limits with respect to PCB and dioxin, although some sources point out that the cancer-reducing effect of omega-3 fatty acids is statistically stronger than the carcinogenic effect of PCBs and dioxins. 17 cm (6.7 in) may be eaten twice a month, while herrings smaller than 17 cm can be eaten freely. Mercury in fish also influences the amount of fish that women who are pregnant or planning to be pregnant within the next one or two years may safely eat.The contaminant levels depend on the age of the fish which can be inferred from their size. Baltic herrings larger than
The herring has played a highly significant role in history both socially and economically. During the Middle Ages, herring prompted the founding of Great Yarmouth, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen.In 1274, while on his deathbed at the monastery of Fossanova (south of Rome, Italy), when encouraged to eat something to regain his strength, Thomas Aquinas asked for fresh herring.
Cod is the common name for the demersal fish genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae. Cod is also used as part of the common name for a number of other fish species, and one species that belongs to genus Gadus is commonly not called cod.
Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of pelagic fish, mostly from the family Scombridae. They are found in both temperate and tropical seas, mostly living along the coast or offshore in the oceanic environment.
Carp are various species of oily freshwater fish from the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. While carp is consumed in many parts of the world, they are generally considered an invasive species in parts of Africa, Australia and most of the United States.
"Sardine" and "pilchard" are common names for various small, oily forage fish in the herring family Clupeidae. The term "sardine" was first used in English during the early 15th century, it comes from the Italian island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant.
Gadus is a genus of demersal fish in the family Gadidae, commonly known as cod, although there are additional cod species in other genera. The best known member of the genus is the Atlantic cod.
Sprat is the common name applied to a group of forage fish belonging to the genus Sprattus in the family Clupeidae. The term also is applied to a number of other small sprat-like forage fish. Like most forage fishes, sprats are highly active, small, oily fish. They travel in large schools with other fish and swim continuously throughout the day.
The Pahranagat spinedace, Lepidomeda altivelis, is an extinct fish that originally inhabited the Pahranagat Valley in Nevada, United States.
The toothed river herring or Papuan river sprat is a species of fish in the family Clupeidae. It is found in New Guinea.
Abrau sprat, Clupeonella abrau, is a species of freshwater fish in the family Clupeidae. It is found landlocked in Russia in a single locality, Lake Abrau, located at 70 m above sea level near the Black Sea coast close to Novorossiysk. The lake is small and has been stocked by several alien species, whence the Abrau sprat is considered critically endangered.
Xenotilapia bathyphila is a species of cichlid endemic to Lake Tanganyika where it occurs in schools in areas with sandy substrates. It feeds on small shrimps and copepods. This species can reach a length of 10.3 centimetres (4.1 in) TL. It can also be found in the aquarium trade.
The broadbarred king mackerel or grey mackerel is a species of fish in the family Scombridae found in tropical waters of the western Pacific, along the northern coast of Australia and the southern coast of Papua New Guinea, from Shark Bay, Western Australia to northern New South Wales, in waters from the surface down to 100 m (330 ft). Specimens have been recorded at up to 120 cm in length, and weighing up to 10 kg. They are pelagic predators, feeding on small fishes such as sardines and herring.
An anchovy is a small, common forage fish of the family Engraulidae. Most species are found in marine waters, but several will enter brackish water, and some in South America are restricted to fresh water.
The blue jack mackerel is a species of mackerel-like fish in the family Carangidae. Their maximum reported length is 60 cm, with a common length of 25 cm. They are coastal fish found at depths to 370 m off the Bay of Biscay to south Morocco and the western Mediterranean.
Clupea is genus of planktivorous bony fish belonging to the family Clupeidae, commonly known as herrings. They are found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea. Two main species of Clupea are currently recognized: the Atlantic herring and the Pacific herring, which have each been divided into subspecies. Herrings are forage fish moving in vast schools, coming in spring to the shores of Europe and America, where they form important commercial fisheries.
The White Sea herring, Clupea pallasii marisalbi, is a subspecies of the Pacific herring, Clupea pallasii, in the genus Clupea of the family Clupeidae.
Microctenopoma intermedium is a fish in the family Anabantidae found in the Okavango, upper and lower Zambezi, and Kafue Rivers, and St. Lucia basin, as well as in the southern tributaries of the Congo system. It grows to 6.2 cm in total length.
Thunnus (Thunnus) is a subgenus of ray-finned bony fishes in the Thunnini, or tuna, tribe. More specifically, Thunnus (Thunnus) is a subgenus of the genus Thunnus, also known as the "true tunas". Thunnus (Thunnus) is sometimes referred to as the bluefin group and comprises five species:
The Pacific thread herring or deep-bodied Pacific thread herring is a herring-like fish in the family Clupeidae. It is found in the Eastern Pacific. It can grow to 30 cm (12 in) total length.