• Northern Anchovy

Latin name

Engraulis mordax

Other names

Pinhead, North Pacific anchovy, California anchovy, bay anchovy; French: anchois du Pacifique nord, anchois de California; Spanish: anchoveta de California, anchoa del Pacific.


Anchovies are silvery fish that look like miniature herring. They have an overhanging snout and long mandibles that extend behind the eyes. The northern anchovy has an elongated body, 5-6 times the height of its body length. The head is long, 3.5-4 times shorter than the body length, moderately compressed from the sides.


The northern anchovy is found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, occurring from northern Vancouver Island to Cabo San Lucas. E. mordax is found from British Columbia to Baja California, and E. mordax nanus is found in California bays.


Northern anchovies form dense schools and prefer coastal shallows, including bays and coves.


Most often, the Northern anchovy is 4-5 inches in size, but can reach 9 inches.

Life history and Behavior

Northern anchovies spawn throughout the year, but mostly in winter and early spring. Spawning occurs in nearshore and offshore areas, mostly at depths less than 33 feet and at temperatures between 50° and 55°F.

Food and feeding habits

It feeds on phytoplankton and zooplankton, sometimes on larvae and eggs.


Mass spawning off the California coast in late winter - early spring at water temperatures of 10-23.3 °С. Mass spawning is observed at temperatures of 13-17.5 °С in the upper layers of water. Batch spawning, with fecundity ranging from 4 to 26,000 eggs; the first batch usually makes up about 75% of all the eggs hatched.

Phylum Chordates
Class Actinopterygii
Family Engraulidae
Genus Engraulis
Species E. mordax
Conservation status Data Deficient
Habitat Littoral
Life span, years 7
Maximum body weight, kg 0,068
Maximum length, cm 24,8
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Planktonophage

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Northern Anchovy

Tags: Northern Anchovy