Latin name

Sardinops caeruleus

Other names

Pilchard, California pilchard, California sardine, sardina; Spanish: pilchard California, sardina de California, sardina Monterrey.


It has an elongated body, compressed head and small mouth, of moderate size. There are no teeth. Cephalic bones with seven radial lines pointing backwards and downwards. It is silvery with dark blue on the back, purple and violet shades on the sides, and black spots on the sides and back. It can be distinguished from the typical herring by the absence of a sharp scale ridge (which is along the midline of the herring's belly) and by the vertical ridges on the gill covers.


Found in the eastern Pacific Ocean from southeast Alaska to Cabo San Lucas and throughout the Gulf of California, Mexico.


A gregarious, warm-loving pelagic fish that lives mainly in coastal waters.


It begins to mature at the age of two years at a length of 18 cm. The main part of commercial concentrations consists of three- and four-year-old specimens 20-22 cm long, specimens over 29 cm long are very rare, although a specimen 39 cm long and weighing 485 g was observed.

Life history and Behavior

The fish migrate north from California to British Columbia in the summer and return in the fall or winter. They form large schools of fish of varying sizes. Their eggs are pelagic and, unlike herring eggs, they float. They usually become sexually mature in their second year of life.

Food and feeding habits

Plankton-eating fish. Juveniles feed mainly on eggs and copepod larvae. Copepods form the basis of the adults' diet; in spring - phytoplankton. During the spawning season, it feeds on fish larvae, mainly anchovy.


Spawning occurs off the California coast in the first half of the year, with peak spawning in April-May. Eggs are laid at water temperatures of 15-18.3 °C at 80-100 miles offshore, sometimes 200-250 miles. At temperatures below 12.8 °C, spawning does not occur. Fertility is 30-65 thousand eggs, spawning occurs in batches. The eggs hatch at night in the upper 50 m of the water layer. It is pelagic, about 1.5 mm in diameter, with one large fat drop, and the yolk is segmented. The developmental time of the eggs is about three days, and the hatched larvae are 3 mm long. At 2.5 cm in length, the juveniles have all the features of adults. Young fish concentrate in large flocks in the coastal area.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Clupeiformes
Family Clupeidae
Genus Sardinops
Species S. sagax
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years No information
Maximum body weight, kg 0.49
Maximum length, cm 39
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Planktonophage

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Sardine, Pacific

Tags: Sardine, Pacific