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Author: Linnaeus, 1758

Clupea harengus Linnaeus, 1758

Diagnosis: moderate-sized silvery fishes, elongate, a little compressed; belly with a keel of scutes, rather rounded. Lower jaw projecting; gill cover without radiating bony striae, hind margin of gill-opening smoothly rounded (without fleshy outgrowths). Pelvic fin with usually 9 finrays, its base below or just behind dorsal fin origin; last two anal finrays not enlarged. Colour: back dark blue, flanks silvery (without any dark spots). Size: to 40 cm, usually 20-25 cm.

Habitat: coastal pelagic down to 200 m, mainly offshore, the juveniles occurring in shallow water near the banks where they were spawned, but moving into deeper water after two years; shoaling, with complex feeding and spawning migrations, whose times and extent correlate with the numerous more or less distinct races which can be recognized on morphological grounds (mainly numbers of vertebrae, finrays, scales and gillrakers). Food: small planktonic copepods in the first year; thereafter, mainly copepods (especially Calanus finmarchicus and Temora longicornis), but also hyperid amphipods, euphausiids, mysid shrimps, small fishes, arrow-worms, ctenophores and pteropods. Reproduction: at least one population is spawning in any month of the year, each race having a different spawning time and place (e.g. bays and inshore waters at 15-40 m, or on edges of ocean banks down to 200 m); eggs demersal, adhering to sea-bed.

Distribution: Atlantic coasts from Bay of Biscay northward to Greenland, Iceland, Spitsbergen and east to Novaya Zemlya; White Sea (form or subspecies marisalbi), south-eastern part of Barents Sea and adjacent gulfs and bays, also part of Kara Sea (form or subspecies suworowi) and Baltic (form or subspecies membras). Elsewhere, western North Atlantic, from South Carolina to Greenland. Formerly very abundant and still the third most exploited clupeoid fish, but stocks seriously depleted by over-fishing, especially in the North Sea.

Subspecies (Clofnam; forms fide Svetovidov, 1952, 1963).

C. harengus harengus Linnaeus, 1758
head length less than 23% of SL; Atlantic, reaching to western parts of Baltic and into the White and Barents Seas (Clofnam 33.1.1.1).
Eggs, larvae and young stages. Ehrenbaum, 1904: 194, pl. XVI (fig. f-g); 1909: 361, fig. 139 | Fage, 1920: 111, fig. 31-42 | Svetovidov, 1952: 123-126 [litt.]
Otoliths (sagitta). Koken, 1884: 527, pl. IX (fig. 4) | Fryd, 1901: 34. fig. p34 | Jenkins, 1902: 98, pl. III (fig. 1-8) | Scott, 1906: 77, pl. III B (fig. 15-24), pl. V (fig- 3-4) | Shepherd, 1914: 108; 1915: 29, fig. V, 5 | Frost, 1925: 154, pl. XI (fig. 5) | Chaine, 1938: 118, pl. XII | Schmidt, 1968: 8, pl. I (fig. 5), pl. 14.


C. harengus marisalbi Berg, 1923
depth of head more than 13% of SL; White Sea (Clofnam 33.1.1.2).
Eggs, larvae and young stages. Kazanova, 1953: 234, fig. 1-41 | Kryzanowsky, 1956: 74, fig. 30-35.
Otoliths (sagitta). Anwand, 1963: 235, fig. 15-18 | Ojaveer, 1962: 193, fig. 2-3.


C. harengus membras Linnaeus, 1761
head length more than 23.5% of SL; Baltic Sea. (Clofnam 33.1.1.3)
Eggs, larvae and young stages. Karinsky, 1938 147, fig. 2-9 | Soin, 1963: 68, fig.
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.


C. harengus suworowi Rabinerson, 1927
depth of head less than 14% of SL; Barents Sea and parts of Kara Sea (Clofnam 33.1.1.4).
Eggs, larvae and young stages. Kazanova, 1949: 161, fig. 1-4 | Alekseyeva, 1949: 178, fig. 2-3 | Ponomareva, 1949: 193, fig. 2-3.
Otoliths (sagitta). No data.

Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus)