Herring

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Herring
Clupea harengus Gervais.flipped.jpg
The Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus
Global capture of all herring 1950-2010.png
Global commercial capture of herrings
in million tonnes reported by the FAO 1950–2010 [1]

Herring are forage fish, mostly belonging to the family Clupeidae.

Contents

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, [2] and early in the 20th century, their study was fundamental to the evolution of fisheries science. [3] [4] These oily fish [5] also have a long history as an important food fish, and are often salted, smoked, or pickled.

Herring are also known as "silver darlings". [6]

Species

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. [7]

The type genus of the herring family Clupeidae is Clupea . [4] Clupea contains three species: the Atlantic herring (the type species) found in the north Atlantic, the Pacific herring found in the north Pacific, and the Araucanian herring found off the coast of Chile. Subspecific divisions have been suggested for both the Atlantic and Pacific herrings, but their biological basis remains unclear.

Herrings in the genus Clupea
Common nameScientific nameMaximum
length
Common
length
Maximum
weight
Maximum
age
Trophic
level
Fish
Base
FAO ITIS IUCN status
Araucanian herring Clupea bentinckiNorman, 193628.4 cmcmkgyears2.69 [8] [9] [10] Not assessed
Atlantic herring Clupea harengusLinnaeus, 175845.0 cm30.0 cm1.05 kg22 years3.23 [11] [12] [13] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [14]
Pacific herring Clupea pallasiiValenciennes, 184746.0 cm25.0 cm19 years3.15 [11] [15] [16] 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
GroupCommon nameScientific nameMaximum
length
Common
length
Maximum
weight
Maximum
age
Trophic
level
Fish
Base
FAO ITIS IUCN status
Freshwater herrings Toothed river herring Clupeoides papuensis(Ramsay & Ogilby, 1886)cmcmkgyears [17] [18] DD IUCN 3 1.svg Data deficient [19]
Round herrings Day's round herring Dayella malabarica(Day, 1873)cmcmkgyears [20] [21] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [22]
Dwarf round herring Jenkinsia lamprotaenia(Gosse, 1851)cmcmkgyears [23] [24] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [25]
Gilchrist's round herring Gilchristella aestuaria(Gilchrist, 1913cmcmkgyears [26] [27] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [28]
Little-eye round herring Jenkinsia majuaWhitehead, 1963cmcmkgyears [29] [30] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [31]
Red-eye round herring Etrumeus teres(De Kay, 1842)33 cm25 cmkgyears [32] [33] [34] Not assessed
Two-finned round herring Spratellomorpha bianalis(Bertin, 1940)4.5 cmcmkgyears3.11 [35] [36] DD IUCN 3 1.svg Data deficient [37]
Whitehead's round herring Etrumeus whiteheadi(Wongratana, 1983)20 cmcmkgyears3.4 [38] [39] [40] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [41]
Venezuelan herring Jenkinsia parvulaCervigón and Velasquez, 1978

cmcmkgyears [42] [43] VU IUCN 3 1.svg Vulnerable [44]
Thread herrings Galapagos thread herring Opisthonema berlangai(Günther, 1867)26 cm18 cmkgyears3.27 [45] [46] VU IUCN 3 1.svg Vulnerable [47]
Middling thread herring Opisthonema medirastreBerry & Barrett, 1963cmcmkgyears [48] [49] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [50]
Pacific thread herring Opisthonema libertate(Günther, 1867)30 cm22 cmkgyears [51] [52] [46] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [53]
Slender thread herring Opisthonema bulleri(Regan, 1904)cmcmkgyears [54] [55] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [56]
Other Blackstripe herring Lile nigrofasciataCastro-Aguirre Ruiz-Campos and Balart, 2002cmcmkgyears [57] [58] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [59]
Denticle herring Denticeps clupeoidesClausen, 1959cmcmkgyears [60] [61] VU IUCN 3 1.svg Vulnerable [62]
Dogtooth herring Chirocentrodon bleekerianus(Poey, 1867)cmcmkgyears [63] [64] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [65]
Graceful herring Lile gracilisCastro-Aguirre and Vivero, 1990cmcmkgyears [66] [67] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [68]
Pacific Flatiron herring Harengula thrissina(Jordan and Gilbert, 1882)cmcmkgyears [69] [70] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [71]
Sanaga pygmy herring Thrattidion noctivagusRoberts, 1972cmcmkgyears [72] [73] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [74]
Silver-stripe round herring Spratelloides gracilis(Temminck & Schlegel, 1846)10.5 cmcmkgyears3.0 [75] [76] Not assessed
Striped herring Lile stolifera(Jordan & Gilbert, 1882)cmcmkgyears [77] [78] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [79]
West African pygmy herring Sierrathrissa leonensisThys van den Audenaerde, 1969cmcmkgyears [80] [81] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [82]

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 nameScientific nameMaximum
length
Common
length
Maximum
weight
Maximum
age
Trophic
level
Fish
Base
FAO ITIS IUCN status
Longfin herring Bigeyed longfin herring Opisthopterus macrops(Günther, 1867)cmcmkgyears [83] [84] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [85]
Dove's longfin herring Opisthopterus dovii(Günther 1868)cmcmkgyears [86] [87] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [88]
Hatchet herring Ilisha fuerthii(Steindachner, 1875)cmcmkgyears [89] [90] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [91]
Panama longfin herring Odontognathus panamensis(Steindachner, 1876)cmcmkgyears [92] [93] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [94]
Tropical longfin herring Neoopisthopterus tropicus(Hildebrand 1946)cmcmkgyears [95] [96] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [97]
Vaqueira longfin herring Opisthopterus effulgens(Regan 1903)cmcmkgyears [98] [99] VU IUCN 3 1.svg Vulnerable [100]
Equatorial longfin herring Opisthopterus equatorialisHildebrand, 1946cmcmkgyears [101] [102] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern [103]
Wolf herring Dorab wolf-herring Chirocentrus dorab(Forsskål, 1775)100 cm60 cmkgyears4.50 [104] [105] [106] Not assessed
Whitefin wolf-herring Chirocentrus nudusSwainson, 1839100 cmcm0.41 kgyears4.19 [107] [108] Not assessed
Freshwater whitefish Lake herring (cisco)Coregonus artediLesueur, 1818cmcmkgyears [109] [110] Not assessed

Characteristics

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).

Lifecycle

Herring spawn Herring spawn.jpg
Herring spawn

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 (364 to 116 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 (316 to 14 in) long at hatching, with a small yolk sac that is absorbed by the time the larvae reach 10 mm (1332 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 (1932 to 2132 in), the anal fin at about 30 mm (1+316 in)—the ventral fins are visible and the tail becomes well forked at 30 to 35 mm (1+38 in)— at about 40 mm (1+916 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.

Egg to juvenile
Clupeaharenguskils2.jpg
Transparent eggs with the yolk and eyes visible and one larva hatched.
Clupealarvamatchkils.jpg
Freshly hatched larva in a drop of water beside a match to demonstrate how tiny it is: The black eyes and the yolk are visible.
Clupeaharenguslarvaeinsitukils.jpg
Young larva in typical oblique swimming position, with remaining yolk still attached: Another larva at the upper right is in the classical S-shape of the beginning phase of attacking a copepod.
Herringjuvenilekils.jpg
Still transparent juvenile herring, about 38 mm long and 3 months old: Visible are the otoliths, the gut, the silvery swimbladder, and the heart.

Ecology

Prey

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 is 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", [111] 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 (132332 in) long, with a teardrop-shaped body. Some scientists say they form the largest animal biomass on the planet. [112] 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.

Hunting copepods
Copepodkils.jpg
This copepod has its antennae spread. The antennae detect the pressure wave of an approaching fish.
Herringramkils.jpg
School of herrings ram feeding on a school of copepods with opercula and mouth expanded: The fish swim in a grid with a distance of the jump length of their prey, as indicated by the animation at the right.
Synchropredation.gif
Animation showing how herrings hunt in a synchronised way to capture an alert and evasive copepod

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. [111]

Other pelagic prey eaten by herring includes fish eggs, larval snails, diatoms by herring larvae below 20 mm (1316 in), tintinnids by larvae below 45 mm (1+34 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. [113] The analysis of the stomach contents of these fish indicate Atlantic cod is the top predator, preying on the herring and sprat. [113] [114] 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. [115] Sprat are highly selective in their diet and eat only zooplankton, while herring are more eclectic, adjusting their diet as they grow in size. [115] 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. [115]

Predators

Seabirds, like this European herring gull, attack herring schools from above. Goeland argente - Julien Salmon.jpg
Seabirds, like this European herring gull, attack herring schools from above.
Humpback whales attack herring schools by lunging from below. Humpback whale lunging through a herring school.jpg
Humpback whales attack herring schools by lunging from below.

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. [116] 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. [117] [118]

Some whales lunge feed on bait balls. [119] 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. [120]

Fisheries

Global capture of all herring.png
  All herrings 2010 [1]
Green = Clupea herrings

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. [121]

Purse seining for herring in southeast Alaska Purse seining for herring, southeast Alaska, nd (COBB 212).jpeg
Purse seining for herring in southeast Alaska

Environmental Defense have suggested that the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) fishery is an environmentally responsible fishery. [122]

As food

A kipper or split smoked herring Kipper.JPG
A kipper or split smoked herring

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. [123] They are a source of vitamin D. [124]

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. [125] The contaminant levels depend on the age of the fish which can be inferred from their size. Baltic herrings larger than 17 cm (6.7 in) may be eaten twice a month, while herrings smaller than 17 cm can be eaten freely. [126] 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.

History

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. [127] 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. [128]

See also

Related Research Articles

Cod Common name for the demersal fish genus Gadus

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 Pelagic fish

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.

Clupeidae Family of fishes

Clupeidae is a family of ray-finned fishes, comprising, for instance, the herrings, shads, sardines, hilsa, and menhadens. The clupeoids include many of the most important food fishes in the world, and are also commonly caught for production of fish oil and fish meal. Many members of the family have a body protected with shiny cycloid scales, a single dorsal fin, and a fusiform body for quick, evasive swimming and pursuit of prey composed of small planktonic animals. Due to their small size and position in the lower trophic level of many marine food webs, the levels of methylmercury they bioaccumulate are very low, reducing the risk of mercury poisoning when consumed.

Carp various species of cyprinid fishes

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 Common names used to refer to various small, oily forage fish within the herring family of Clupeidae

"Sardine" and "pilchard" are common names that refer to various small, oily forage fish in the herring family Clupeidae. The term "sardine" was first used in English during the early 15th century and may come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant.

<i>Gadus</i> Genus of fishes

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 Common name for several kinds of forage fish

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.

Shrimpfish Subfamily of fishes

Shrimpfish, also called razorfish, are five small species of marine fishes in the subfamily Centriscinae of the family Centriscidae. The species in the genera Aeoliscus and Centriscus are found in relatively shallow tropical parts of the Indo-Pacific, while the banded bellowsfish, which often is placed in the subfamily Macroramphosinae instead, is restricted to deeper southern oceans.

Atlantic thread herring Species of fish

The Atlantic thread herring is a herring-like fish in the family Clupeidae.

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.

Anchovy Family of fishes

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.

<i>Euthynnus</i> Genus of fishes

Euthynnus is a genus of ray-finned bony fish in the family Scombridae, or mackerel family, and in the tribe Thunnini, more commonly known as the tunas.

<i>Opisthonema</i> Genus of herrings from the tropical waters of the Western Hemisphere

Opisthonema is a genus of herrings, the thread herrings, found in tropical waters of the Western Hemisphere. They get their name from a filamentous nature of the last ray of the dorsal fin. Currently, five species are in this genus.

Opisthopterus is a genus of longfin herring in the family Pristigasteridae. There are currently six species in this genus.

<i>Clupea</i> Genus of fishes

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.

The chosa herring, Clupea pallasii suworowi, is a subspecies of the Pacific herring, Clupea pallasii, in the genus Clupea of the family Clupeidae.

<i>Thunnus</i> (subgenus) Subgenus of fishes

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:

References

Citations

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