Herring

(Clupea harengus harengus)

Herring
Picture taken from Stinson Seafood Company Site

Distribution

The Atlantic herring (also known as the sea herring, sardine, bloater or kipper when smoked, Digby chick, skadlin, scaidhlin or scaithlin when salted and smoked) can be found on both sides of the North Atlantic. In the eastern North Atlantic, it occurs off Iceland and the intervening seas to Europe, where it ranges from Spitsbergen and the White Sea to the Strait of Gibraltar. It occurs in the Baltic Sea to the Gulf of Bothnia and to the Gulf of Finland. In the western North Atlantic this species can be found from western Greenland to Labrador, and southward along the North American coast to Cape Hatteras.

Habitat

The Atlantic herring is primarily pelagic, and is often found in schools (sometimes huge), occurring in shallow inshore waters, or offshore from the surface down to depths of 200m. A number of separate populations or stocks have been described occurring in Canadian and adjacent waters. Each stock seems to have preferred spawning and feeding and overwintering grounds, and tagging studies have demonstrated the existence of annual migratory patterns between these areas.

Food

Atlantic herring are visual feeders, and consuming plankton during daylight hours, filtering the small organisms out of the sea water with their long, well-developed gill rakers. Young herring first feed on small phytoplankton, and progress to larger organisms as they grow. Adult herring rely heavily on the euphausiid crustacean Meganyctiphanes norvegica, but may also eat copepods, fish eggs, pteropods, mollusk larvae, and the larvae of small fishes such as sand lance, silversides, herring, and capelin. Herring are relatively small fish, rarely exceeding 40 cm in length.

Antifreeze Production - Type II Antifreeze

The seasonal cycle of antifreeze production in the herring has not yet been well documented. However, it seems likely that antifreeze is produced during the winter months in response to environmental stimuli and is lost from the plasma and other extracellular fluids during the warmer summer months (as is the case with many other fish species inhabiting a sub-polar/temperate range).

References

Chadwick, E.M.P., D.K.Cairns, H.M.C.Dupuis, K.V.Ewart, M.H.Kao, and G.L.Fletcher. 1990. Plasma antifreeze levels reflect the migratory behaviour of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus harengus) in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 47: 1534-1536.

Ewart, K.V. and G.L. Fletcher. 1993. Herring antifreeze protein: primary structure and evidence for a C-type lectin evolutionary origin. Molecular Marine Biology and Biotechnology. 2: 20-27.


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