Latin name

Clupea harengus

Other names

Herring; Danish: Atlantisk sild, sild; Finnish: silakka, silli; French: hareng de l’Atlantique; German: allec, hering; Norwegian: sild; Polish: sledz; Spanish: arenque del Atlántico.


The body is not high (its height is about 1/5 of body length). Head is comparatively small, 20,2-22,8% of body length. Eyes 20,8-23,9% of head length. The lower jaw is protruded forward, with relatively well-developed teeth. The body is covered with cycloid, easily falling scales, the head is bare. Pelvic keeled scales are poorly developed and located in front (27-30) and behind (13-16) the base of the pelvic fins. Atlantic herring is silvery with a bluish or greenish-blue back and elongated body. The dorsal fin starts about mid-body, and the belly has 39 to 47 poorly developed pelvic pads. There are scales along the midline of the abdomen that form a pointed ridge. The teeth on the roof of the mouth distinguish the Atlantic herring from the similar alewife.


Atlantic herring is the most abundant pelagic fish in the cool northern Atlantic waters. Its range is limited to the area of Atlantic waters and is associated with the warm branches of the Gulf Stream. Its habitat is ice-free year-round. In the western Atlantic Ocean, they are widely distributed in continental shelf waters from Labrador to Cape Hatteras and are divided by biologists into the Gulf of Maine and George's Bank stocks. A related and similar species is the blue herring (Alosa aestivalis), which is common from Nova Scotia to Florida. Skipjack herring (A. chrysochloris) are found in the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida and up the Mississippi River and some of its tributaries.


A gregarious plankton-eating fish. It feeds at the sea surface, hibernates and spawns in benthic horizons. Adheres to waters with positive temperature and high salinity. In some areas can tolerate significant desalinization. This species inhabits coastal waters and has been recorded at temperatures ranging from 34° to 64 °F.


Herring growth rate is determined by herring fattening conditions in the corresponding area. In the north and northeast of the feeding area, herring grows more slowly and matures later than young herring settled in the southern and central areas of the Norwegian Sea. Spring Atlantic Scandinavian herring have an average length of 5-9 cm by the end of the 1st year, 12-13 cm in the 2nd year, 15-18 cm in the 3rd year, and 20-23 cm in the 5th year. Atlantic herring are usually less than a foot long, but can grow up to 18 inches. The world record for all tackle is 1 pound 1 ounce fish; the record of 3 pounds 12 ounces belongs to skipjack herring.

Life history and Behavior

Atlantic herring usually spawn in the fall, although in any given month of the year, there is at least one group of Atlantic herring that moves to coastal shallows to spawn. (Anadromous herring, blue back herring and chub herring, spawn in coastal rivers in the spring). Nearly 5 inches long by the end of the first year, Atlantic herring nearly double their length in 2 years and reach maturity at age 4 or 5. Flocks of herring can consist of billions of individuals. In the western Atlantic, herring migrate from feeding grounds along the Maine coast in the fall to southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic region in the winter, with large individuals typically migrating long distances.

Food and feeding habits

Young herring fattening conditions are predetermined by the areas where juvenile herrings settle as a result of their drifting. In warm seasons, fat herring inhabits near the sea surface above the horizon of summer temperature jump. As the gradient zone descends, herring goes to lower sea horizons. In the fall, herring make vertical migrations, rising to the sea surface at night. The main food of herring during this period is calanoids, euphausiids and amphipods. Fish larvae and fry, including the own species, are also found in herring stomachs. In mid-July, the fat content of herring reaches 16-18%, and in August - 20-22%. Fat is deposited in the body cavity: intestines and pyloric appendages. In the first year of life, Atlantic herring feeds on small planktonic copepods.


Individual fecundity of herring is not high - from 10 to 110 thousand eggs, on average 80 thousand eggs. Each female spawns many times and may produce more than one million eggs during her life. Population fecundity varies by hundreds or thousands of times and is determined by the number of sexually mature individuals and the rate of fishing mortality. Individual fecundity of spring spawning herring is lower than that of summer spawning herring. The eggs are bottom-dwelling, sticky; they are laid on rocky ground, sandy bottom, pebbles, and shells. The eggs are about 1.6-2.1 mm in diameter.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Clupeiformes
Family Clupeidae
Genus Clupea
Species C. pallasii
Conservation status Data Deficient
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 0.55
Maximum length, cm 45
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Planktonophage

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Herring, Atlantic

Tags: Herring, Atlantic