Temporal range: 55–0 Ma Early Eocene to Present.[1]
Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Clupeiformes
Family: Clupeidae
Subfamily: Clupeinae
Genus: Clupea
Linnaeus, 1758

see text

Clupea is genus of planktivorous bony fish belonging to the family Clupeidae, commonly known as herrings. They are found in the shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea. Two main species of Clupea are currently recognized: the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) and the Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), which have each been divided into subspecies. Herrings are forage fish moving in vast schools, coming in spring to the shores of Europe and America, where they form important commercial fisheries.


The species of Clupea belong to the larger family Clupeidae (herrings, shads, sardines, menhadens), which comprises some 200 species that share similar features. They are silvery-colored fish that have a single dorsal fin, which is soft, without spines. They have no lateral line and have a protruding lower jaw. Their size varies between subspecies: the Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras) is small, 14 to 18 centimeters; the proper Atlantic herring (C. h. harengus) can grow to about 45.72 cm (18.00 in) and weigh up 680 g (1.50 lb); and Pacific herring grow to about 38 cm (15 in).


Clupea species
Common name Scientific name Maximum
Atlantic herring Clupea harengus Linnaeus, 1758 45.0 cm 30.0 cm 1.1 kg 22 years 3.23 [2] [3] [4] LC IUCN 3 1.svg Least concern[5]
    - Atlantic herring     - C. h. harengus Linnaeus, 1758 [6]
    - Baltic herring     - C. h. membras Valenciennes, 1847 [7]
Pacific herring Clupea pallasii Valenciennes, 1847 46.0 cm 25.0 cm 19 years 3.15 [8] [9] [10] Not assessed
    - Pacific herring     - C. p. pallasii Valenciennes, 1847 46.0 cm 25.0 cm [8] -
    - White Sea herring     - C. p. marisalbi L. S. Berg, 1923 34.0 cm [11] -[12]
    - Chosa herring     - C. p. suworowi Rabinerson, 1927 31.5 cm [13] -


See Atlantic herring for videos of juvenile herring feeding by catching copepods.

Video loop of a school of Atlantic herring migrating to their spawning grounds in the Baltic Sea

Predators of herring include humans, seabirds, dolphins, porpoises, striped bass, seals, sea lions, whales, sharks, dog fish, tuna, cod, salmon, and halibut. Other large fish also feed on adult herring.[citation needed]

Young herring feed on phytoplankton and as they mature they start to consume larger organisms. Adult herring feed on zooplankton, tiny animals that are found in oceanic surface waters, and small fish and fish larvae. Copepods and other tiny crustaceans are the most common zooplankton eaten by herring. During daylight herring stay in the safety of deep water, feeding at the surface only at night when there is less chance of being seen by predators. They swim along with their mouths open, filtering the plankton from the water as it passes through their gills.


Commercial herring catch

Adult herring are harvested for their meat and eggs, and they are often used as baitfish. The trade in herring is an important sector of many national economies. In Europe the fish has been called the "silver of the sea", and its trade has been so significant to many countries that it has been regarded as the most commercially important fishery in history.[14] Environmental Defense have suggested that the Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) fishery is one of the more environmentally responsible fisheries.[15]

Medieval herring fishing in Scania, 1555



  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology. 364: 560. Archived from the original on 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2012). "Clupea harengus" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  3. ^ Clupea harengus (Linnaeus, 1758) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  4. ^ "Clupea harengus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  5. ^ Herdson, D.; Priede, I.G. (2010). "Clupea harengus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2010: e.T155123A4717767. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-4.RLTS.T155123A4717767.en. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Clupea harengus harengus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  7. ^ "Clupea harengus membras". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  8. ^ a b Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Clupea pallasii pallasii" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  9. ^ Clupea pallasii (Valenciennes, 1847) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Clupea pallasii". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  11. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Clupea pallasii marisalbi" in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  12. ^ "Clupea pallasii marisalbi". Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  13. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). "Clupea pallasii suworowi" in FishBase. April 2012 version.: "Status needs confirmation."
  14. ^ Herring Archived 2010-08-14 at the Wayback Machine, from Census of Marine Life Archived 2010-08-04 at the Wayback Machine, 2010.
  15. ^ Eco-Best Fish - Safe for the environment, from Environmental Defense Fund, 2010.