Atlantic herring

Binomial name: Clupea harengus
Family: Clupeidae
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Clupeiformes
Genus: Clupea
Species: C. harengus

Common Names: Dunbar wedder, Nun, Peeo, Scadan, Scattan, Sgadan and Sild. The names Shaldoo, Shaltoo, Sile, Yaulin’ and Yawling have been used for small herring, and the names Torn belly and Wine drinker have been used to describe condition. In addition there are several names, originating from the old Crown Brand system of marking barrels of pickle cured herring, that are still occasionally used to describe the condition of the fish or the nature of the product made from them; these include filling, full, halflin, lafull, laspent, matfull, mattie, medium and spent.

Atlantic herring can be found on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. They range across North Atlantic waters such as the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of St Lawrence, the Bay of Fundy, the Labrador Sea, the Davis Straits, the Beaufort Sea, the Denmark Straits, the Norwegian Sea, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea, the Bay of Biscay and Sea of the Hebrides. Although Atlantic herring are found in the northern waters surrounding the Arctic, they are not considered to be an Arctic species.

Atlantic herring have a fusiform body. Gill rakers in their mouths filter incoming water, trapping any zooplankton and phytoplankton.

Atlantic herring are in general fragile. They have large and delicate gill surfaces, and contact with foreign matter can strip away their large scales.

They have retreated from many estuaries worldwide due to excess water pollution although in some estuaries that have been cleaned up, herring have returned. The presence of their larvae indicates cleaner and more–oxygenated waters.

Herrings reach sexual maturity when they are 3 to 5 years old. The life expectancy once mature is 12 to 16 years. Atlantic herring may have different spawning components within a single stock which spawn during different seasons. They spawn in estuaries, coastal waters or in offshore banks. Fertilization is external like with most other fish, the female releases between 20,000 and 40,000 eggs and the males simultaneously release masses of milt so that they mix freely in the sea. Once fertilized the 1 to 1.4 mm diameter eggs sinks to the sea bed where its sticky surface adheres to gravel or weed and will mature in 1–3 weeks, in 14-19 °C water it takes 6–8 days, in 7,5 °C it takes 17 days. It will only mature if its temperature stays below 19 °C. The hatched larvae are 3 to 4 mm long and transparent except for the eyes which have some pigmentation.

The body of the herring is deeper than it is thick, and the length of the fish is about five times the greatest depth. The upper part of the body is dark blue green, or steel blue, and the snout is blackish blue; the sides and belly are silvery. The lower jaw protrudes slightly beyond the upper. There is a single short back fin, a short anal fin near the tail, and a deeply forked tail fin. The pelvic fins are behind the start of the back fin, whereas on the sprat they are in front.

The herring has smooth gill covers, and moderately blunt keel scales along the edge of the belly, whereas the pilchard and the shads have radiating lines on the gill covers, and the sprat has pointed keel scales that feel prickly when a finger is run along the belly.

The body is covered with large, thin, loosely attached scales. The mouth is large, and contains small weak teeth. The lateral line is not visible, and there is no barbel.


Most of the herring landed in Britain are between 23 and 30 cm long; herring caught off Norway and Iceland are often larger, up to 36 cm. Occasionally a herring reaches a length of about 43 cm, but this is exceptional.

The weight of a herring in relation to its length is shown in the following graph. The weight for a given length can vary considerably from season to season and from year to year.

Edible Uses:
Atlantic herring is highly edible.It can be eaten in many different mode of cooking &

Nutrition Facts:
A three-ounce serving of herring is relatively small but contains almost 150 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin D, as well as over 100 percent of the omega-3 your body needs each day. In addition, there are several other nutrients found in large quantities in this fish, such as vitamin B12 and selenium.

According to the USDA, one ounce of pickled Atlantic herring contains about:

*73 calories
*2.7 grams carbohydrates
*4 grams protein
*5 grams fat
*411 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids
*190 IU vitamin D (48 percent DV)
*16.4 micrograms selenium (23 percent DV)
*1.2 micrograms vitamin B12 (20 percent DV)
*241 IU vitamin A (5 percent DV)
*0.9 milligrams niacin (5 percent DV)

Health Benefits:

  • Supports Heart Health:
    The leading cause of death for adult men in the U.S. is currently coronary heart disease, which is generally related to poor nutrition and treated with dangerous medications that come with intense side effects.

Fortunately, herring is one food that can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Because of the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids in herring, studies suggest it’s a preferred source of protein over red meats like beef for people concerned with their risk for heart disease.

*Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory
In one study, researchers found that people suffering from back and neck pain found similar results when treating the inflammatory pain with ibuprofen or omega-3 supplementation.

Eating anti-inflammatory foods like herring can help decrease pain-causing inflammation because of the presence of omega-3s, as well as the high amount of selenium, another anti-inflammatory nutrient.

  • Protects Mental Health:
    There’s a lot of scientific evidence pointing to an association with high omega-3 intake (coupled with the proper ratio of omega-3 to omega-6) and decreased levels of depression. One reason this method of treatment has been studied more recently has to do with the high prevalence of health problems connected to psychotropic medications, including a high rate of smoking, obesity and heart problems as side effects.

*Helps Prevent Age-Related Diseases
Some studies show that consuming fish, like herring, high in omega-3s can actually reverse the loss of skeletal muscle tissue and slow the process of aging.

*May Help Decrease Risk of Cancer
A well-known risk factor for breast cancer is the prevalence and ratio of omega-3s in a person’s diet versus omega-6 levels. Higher intake of omega-3s has been associated with lowered risk of breast cancer. This finding is significant because a poor ratio of fatty acid intake seems to be reversible with a dietary adjustment.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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