Clupea harengus

Common Name

Atlantic Herring

Year Described

Linnaeus, 1758


Dorsal Fin: 16-20
Anal Fin: 16-20
Pectoral Fin: 17-19
Pelvic Fin: 8 (branched)
Vertebrae: 55-57
Scales: 56-62
Ventral Scutes: 39-46
Gill Rakers: 37-52

Body quite slender and fusiforme. Gill opening with rounded edge. Eye about snout length. Upper jaw without median notch and reaching back to mid-orbit. Dorsal and ventral profiles evenly rounded. Dorsal fin origin at about midbody. Pelvic fin under dorsal fin. Anal fin small and placed rearward. Pectoral fin low on body. Tail forked. Body scaled. Ventral scutes not keeled.


Body bright silvery with a dark blue or green back. Fresh specimens with an iridescent green, blue, and yellow sheen. Dorsal and caudal fins dusky to dark blue. Anal and pelvic fins pale. Pectoral fin dark basally.


Maximum size to 45cm SL but much more common to 30cm SL.


Pelagic in the open ocean, up to 200m deep. Forms huge schools.


Greenland to Cape Hatteras, but most common north of Cape Cod.


Hildebrand, S.F. 1964. Engraulidae and Clupeidae (pp. 152-454). In: Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Mem. Sears Fnd. Mar. Res. 1 (Vol. 3): 1-630.

Munroe, T.A. & M.S. Nizinski. 2002. Clupeidaeidae (pp 804-830). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 2: Bony fishes part 1 (Acipenseridae-Grammatidae). FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.