Teleostei (teleosts) > Clupeiformes
(Herrings) > Alosidae
Etymology: Sardinops: Latin and Greek, sarda = sardine; name related to the island of Sardinia + Greek, ops = appearance (Ref. 45335); sagax: From the latin word 'sagax' which means of quick perception, acute, or alert (Ref. 6885).
More on author: Jenyns.
Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; pelagic-neritic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); depth range 0 - 200 m (Ref. 188). Subtropical; 9°C - 21°C (Ref. 6390); 61°N - 47°S, 145°W - 180°E (Ref. 36641)
Indo-Pacific: southern Africa to eastern Pacific (Ref. 27267). Three lineages were confirmed through cluster and parsimony analyses of haplotypic divergences: southern Africa (ocellatus) and Australia (neopilchardus); Chile (sagax) and California (caeruleus); and, Japan (melanostictus) (Ref. 36641).
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 9.0  range ? - ? cm
Max length : 39.5 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 9291); common length : 20.0 cm SL male/unsexed; (Ref. 188); max. published weight: 486.00 g (Ref. 6885); max. reported age: 25 years (Ref. 188)
soft rays: 12 - 23;
Vertebrae: 48 - 54. Body cylindrical and elongate; ventral part of operculum with clear cut bony striae radiating downwards; belly rounded with ventral scutes; back blue green; flanks white, with 1 to 3 series of dark spots along the middle (Ref. 55763). The radiating bony striae on the operculum distinguish this species from all other clupeids in the area. The radiating bony striae on the operculum distinguish this fish from all other clupeids in the area. In New Zealand the species appears to grow larger (21.3 cm standard length; cf. 19.7 cm), has slightly larger eggs and a higher mean number of vertebrae (50.52; cf. 49 to 50.08 in various samples) (Ref. 859).
Neritic (Ref. 11230). A coastal species that forms large schools (Ref. 188). Occur at temperatures ranging from 16° to 23°C in summer and from 10° to 18°C in winter. Feed mainly on planktonic crustaceans. Young fish feed on zooplankton such as copepod and adults on phytoplankton (Ref. 39882). Oviparous, with pelagic eggs, and pelagic larvae (Ref. 265). Possibly can live up to 25 years (Ref. 265). In the California region, pilchards make northward migrations early in summer and travel back south again in autumn. With each year of life, the migration becomes farther (Ref. 6885). Marketed fresh, frozen or canned. Utilized mainly for fish meal; but also eaten fried and broiled (Ref. 9988). Main source of landing: NE Pacific: Mexico (Ref. 4931).
Oviparous (Ref. 265). In the Gulf of California, some individuals spawn in their first year, but most in their second (Ref. 188).
In Australia (as S. neopilchardus), this species breeds in spring and summer in southern part of range, and in summer and autumn in northern part, apparently related to seasonal movement of the limiting 14°C and 21°C isotherms, then autumn to early spring (Ref. 6390). It was believed that individual Australian pilchards only spawn once or twice in a season (Ref. 26422, 26424), but research on related species suggests that they may spawn a number of times (Ref. 6882). Batch fecundities range from about 10,000 eggs in 13 cm long females to about 45,000 eggs in females of about 18 cm (Ref. 26420).
Whitehead, P.J.P., 1985. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 7. Clupeoid fishes of the world (suborder Clupeoidei). An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the herrings, sardines, pilchards, sprats, shads, anchovies and wolf-herrings. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(7/1):1-303. Rome: FAO. (Ref. 188)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 126983)
Threat to humans
Fisheries: highly commercial; bait: usually