Herring Family – Clupeidae
The fish of the Herring or Clupeidae Family are known in Mexico’s fishing areas as sardinas. The family includes the herrings, hilsa, menhadens, sardines and shads with 198 species placed in 54 genera. In Mexican waters there are twelve species found in the Atlantic, nine in the Pacific and one in both Oceans. They are found globally, with most being small schooling coastal fishes in tropical marine waters
Herrings are small in size ranging in size from 2 cm (0.8 inches) to 75 cm (30 inches) in length. The bodies are fusiform and vary greatly from round to strongly compressed and thin to deep and built for quick, evasive swimming. They are normally a silvery blue-green dorsally and silvery on the flanks; many have darker markings including spots behind the gill cover. The heads have terminal mouths that end before the eyes that are a short but deep that opens at the front with either small teeth or no teeth and are without scales. Their fins have no spines with the anal fin being well back in the body with a short base with twelve to twenty nine rays; the caudal fins are deeply forked. Each has a single dorsal fin that is small and near the mid-point of the body. The pectoral fins are set low on the body; the pelvic fins are found under the dorsal fin base equidistant between the anal fin origin and the pectoral fin base. They have scuted keels along the abdomen; lateral lines that are either very short or non-existent; and they are covered with smooth uniform scales.
Adults typically live in large shoals consisting of hundreds to thousands of individuals for protection against predation that includes birds, sharks, other predatory fishes, whales, marine mammals and jellyfish. They are known to form bait balls for protection. They consume zooplankton and small planktonic animals, mainly crustaceans. The females produce up to 200,000 eggs per annum that are pelagic stand-on-their own that remain near the oceans surface.
Herrings play an essential role at the lower end of the food chain of the majority of marine fishes and mammals. Globally many family members are important food fishes comprising 50% of the global catches of fishes each year. The commercially important species include the Atlantic Herring, Clupea harengus, the Atlantic Menhaden, Brevoortia tyrannus, the Gulf Menhaden, Brevoortia patronus, the Pacific Herring, Clupea pallasii, and the Spanish Sardine, Sardinella aurita.They are also used extensively to produce fish oil and fish meal. Some are excellent bait fishes. Clupeidae date to the early Paleogene period, 23 to 66 million years ago.
Members of the Herring family represented in the fish identification section of this website include six herrings, one sardine and one shad, one from the Atlantic, six from the Pacific and one that occurs in both oceans:
Blackstripe Herring, Lile nigrofasciata
Deepbody Thread Herring, Opisthonema libertate
False Pilchard, Harengula clupeola
Flatiron Herring, Harengula thrissina
Middling Thread Herring, Opisthonema medirastre
Pacific Sardine, Sardinops sagax
Round Herring, Etrumeus acuminatus
Threadfin Shad, Dorosoma petenense