Overview

Distribution

Distribution: global (mostly tropical) from 70° N to about 60° S. Chiefly marine coastal and schooling fishes; some freshwater and anadromous. Body usually fusiform, round to strongly compressed. Head without scales; jaw teeth, when present, are small or minute. A single dorsal fin, small and near midpoint of body; pelvic fins more or less below dorsal fin base; dorsal and pelvic fins absent in some species; soft rays only. Lateral line spanning a few scales behind the head in some species, missing in others; scales cycloid (smooth to touch); abdominal scutes usually present (a single pelvic scute in the Dussumieriinae). Branchiostegal rays usually 5-10. Most feed on small planktonic animals. Size range (adults): from 2 to 75 cm. One of the most important family of commercial fishes, processed for food, oil, or fish meal.
  • MASDEA (1997).
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Ecology

Associations

Known predators

Clupeidae (pilchard) is prey of:
Dicentrarchus labrax
Aves
Merluccius
Cephalopoda
Scombridae
Thyrsites atun
Argyrosomus hololepoditus
Seriola
Atractoscion aequidens
Cetacea
Phocidae
Chondrichthyes

Based on studies in:
Portugal (Estuarine)
South Africa, Southwest coast (Marine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • L. Saldanha, Estudio Ambiental do Estuario do Tejo, Publ. no. 5(4) (CNA/Tejo, Lisbon, 1980).
  • Yodzis P (2000) Diffuse effects in food webs. Ecology 81:261–266
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Known prey organisms

Clupeidae (pilchard) preys on:
zooplankton
Mysidacea
Copepoda
phytoplankton
mesozooplankton
macrozooplankton

Based on studies in:
Arctic (Marine)
Portugal (Estuarine)
South Africa, Southwest coast (Marine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • M. J. Dunbar, Arctic and subarctic marine ecology: immediate problems, Arctic 7:213-228, from p. 223 (1954).
  • L. Saldanha, Estudio Ambiental do Estuario do Tejo, Publ. no. 5(4) (CNA/Tejo, Lisbon, 1980).
  • Yodzis P (2000) Diffuse effects in food webs. Ecology 81:261–266
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 2520
Specimens with Sequences: 2299
Specimens with Barcodes: 1614
Species: 131
Species With Barcodes: 127
Public Records: 1314
Public Species: 99
Public BINs: 77
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Barcode data

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Wikipedia

Clupeidae

The Clupeidae are the family of the herrings, shads, sardines, hilsa, and menhadens. It includes many of the most important food fishes in the world.

Description and biology[edit]

Clupeids are mostly marine forage fish, although a few species are found in fresh water. No species has scales on the head, and some are entirely scaleless. The lateral line is short or absent, and the teeth are unusually small where they are present at all. Clupeids typically feed on plankton, and range from 2 to 75 cm (0.8 to 30 in.) in length.[1]

Clupeids spawn huge numbers of eggs (up to 200,000 in some species) near the surface of the water. After hatching, the larvae live among the plankton until they develop a swim bladder and transform into adults. The adults typically live in large shoals.[2]

Commercial species[edit]

Important commercial species include:

Genera[edit]

See also[edit]

List of fish families

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2008). "Clupeidae" in FishBase. December 2008 version.
  2. ^ Nelson, Gareth (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., ed. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
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Menhaden

Menhaden, also known as mossbunker, bunker and pogy, are forage fish of the genera Brevoortia and Ethmidium, two genera of marine fish in the family Clupeidae.

Contents

Taxonomy

Recent taxonomic work using DNA comparisons have organized the North American menhadens into large-scaled (Gulf and Atlantic menhaden) and small-scaled (Finescale and Yellowfin menhaden) designations.[1]

The menhaden consist of two genera and seven species

Characteristics

Gulf menhaden and Atlantic menhaden are small oily-fleshed fish, bright silver and characterized by a series of smaller spots behind the main, Humeral spot. They tend to have larger scales than Yellowfin menhaden and Finescale menhaden. Menhaden are flat, have soft flesh, and a deeply forked tail. In addition, Yellowfin menhaden tail rays are a bright yellow in contrast to those of the Atlantic menhaden. Menhaden's maximum length is 15 inches with a varied weight range.

Distribution

  • The various species of menhaden occur anywhere from estuarine waters outwards to the continental shelf. Menhaden grow in less saline waters of estuaries and can be found in bays, lagoons,as well as river mouths. Adults appear to prefer water temperatures near 18 °C.

Life cycle

Atlantic menhaden can spawn year round in inshore waters off the Atlantic coast, with the highest spawning rates near North Carolina in the late fall. The eggs hatch in the open ocean and the larvae drift to sheltered estuaries via ocean currents. The young spend a year developing in these estuaries before returning to the open ocean. At this early stage, they are commonly known as “peanut bunker”. The Atlantic menhaden usually do not become sexually mature until the end of their second year, after which they reproduce until death. A young, sexually mature female can produce roughly 38,000 eggs, while a fully mature female can produce upwards of 362,000.[2]

Eggs are buoyant and hatch within 2 to 3 days depending on the temperature. The larvae will spend 1 to 3 months in waters over the continental shelf. The Chesapeake Bay is a popular nursery for juvenile menhaden. Larval fish will enter the Bay in late winter and early summer. The larval fish will move into lower salinity waters in estuarine tributaries while juvenile and immature fish remain in the Bay until the fall.

Ecology

Menhaden are omnivorous filter feeders, feeding by straining food particles from water. They travel in large, slow moving, and tightly packed schools with open mouths. Filter feeders typically take into their open mouths "materials in the same proportions as they occur in ambient waters".[3] Menhaden primarily eat phytoplankton (microscopic plants); although, since they are omnivorous, they take in a small portion of zooplankton (microscopic animals). Even though most other related fish (in the family Clupeidae) eat zooplankton, "Menhaden primarily consume phytoplankton, that is, algae and other drifting bits of vegetable matter. The ecological significance of this difference can hardly be overstated."[4]

Fisheries

Global commercial capture of menhaden in million tonnes 1950–2010[5]
Capture of menhaden in 2010 reported by the FAO [5]

According to James Kirkley of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), there are two established commercial fisheries for menhaden. The first is known as a reduction fishery. According to the Omega Protein Corporation, this fishery's output produces omega-3 oils for human consumption, and for aquaculture, swine, and other livestock feeds.[6] The second is known as a bait fishery, which harvests menhaden for the use of both commercial and recreational fishermen. Commercial fishermen, especially crabbers in the Chesapeake Bay area, use menhaden to bait their traps or hooks. The recreational fisherman use ground menhaden chum as a fish attractant, and whole fish as bait. The total harvest is approximately 500 million animals per year.[7] Atlantic menhaden are harvested using purse seines.

As food

Menhaden were prized in America for their delicate but rich flavors in the mid 18th century. Mark Catesby (1682–1749), an English naturalist, wrote of the menhaden as an "exellent Sweet Fish, and so excessive fat that butter is never used in frying or any other preparation of them....[menhaden were] much esteemed by the Inhabitants for their delicacy."[citation needed] Colonel William Byrd II, the founder of Richmond, Virginia, commended menhaden as food fit for a gourmet writing of the menhaden as a "small, but splendid fish when it is baked." Over a century later George Brown Goode (1851–1896) praised the menhaden for its flavor, saying it is "superior in flavor to most of the common shore-fishes," and notes that menhaden sold at a "price nearly as high as that of striped bass, the favorite fish in Washington."[citation needed]

Presently, menhaden are an important input for fishmeal and fish oil, with both of these "reduction" products being used as feed for livestock and aquaculture, such as salmon. Fish oil made from menhaden is also used as a dietary supplement, and as a raw material for products such as lipstick.[7] Atlantic menhaden are an important link between plankton and upper level predators. Because of their filter feeding abilities, "menhaden consume and redistribute a significant amount of energy within and between Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries, and the coastal ocean."[8] Because they play this role, and their abundance, menhaden are an invaluable prey species for many predatory fish, such as striped bass, bluefish, mackerel, flounder, tuna, Drum (fish), and sharks. They are also a very important food source for many birds, including egrets, ospreys, seagulls, northern gannets, pelicans, and herons.

Two companies harvest menhaden in the United States:

  1. Omega Protein Inc., Houston, Texas, with operations in Virginia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama which takes 90% of the national total;[7] and
  2. Daybrook Fisheries, Empire, Louisiana.

Management

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the overall Atlantic coast stock of menhaden is robust as of 2006.[9] However, according to Paul Greenberg, who has called for a ban on fishing menhaden in US federal waters and the Chesapeake bay, the continued harvesting of menhaden (especially by Omega Proteins) is having detrimental effects on the population, which in turn is affecting populations of fish that feed on menhaden and especially on water quality:[7]

The muddy brown color of the Long Island Sound and the growing dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay are the direct result of inadequate water filtration — a job that was once carried out by menhaden. An adult menhaden can rid four to six gallons of water of algae in a minute. Imagine then the water-cleaning capacity of the half-billion menhaden we "reduce" into oil every year.

There is increasing concern, especially from recreational fisherman and conservationists, that the Chesapeake Bay’s population is declining significantly. The Chesapeake Bay’s major menhaden fishery is located in the southern (Virginia) portion. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program:

"Chesapeake-specific population estimates for menhaden are not currently produced; estimates are only made for the entire Atlantic coast stock, which appears to be healthy. Still, scientists are concerned about what appears to be a low abundance of menhaden in the Bay, which is one of the fish's key nursery areas.
Fisheries-independent data from seine surveys in Maryland and Virginia through 2004 suggested that menhaden recruitment—the number of juveniles that grow to a “catchable” size—was possibly declining in the Bay. Coast-wide recruitment is considered to be at median historic levels.
The exact causes of the decline in recruitment remain unknown. While additional scientific knowledge is necessary to understand the variability of menhaden recruitment, scientists have cited several possible contributing factors, including:
- Heavy fishing on the adult menhaden stock.
- Possible increases in mortality by predators.
- Changing environmental conditions, such as climate change or poor water quality, in menhaden nursery areas."[10]

Menhaden have been called 'the most important fish in the sea'.[11] H. Bruce Franklin’s most recent book, The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden and America is an interdisciplinary study of the role of menhaden in American environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural history from the seventeenth into the twenty-first centuries.[4]

Notes

References

This article is
one of a series on
Commercial fish
Blue walleye.jpg
Predator
billfish, bonito
mackerel, salmon
shark, tuna

Forage
anchovy, herring
menhaden, sardine
shad, sprat

Demersal
cod, flatfish
pollock, ray

Fisheries Commission. Available: http://www.asmfc.org/speciesDocuments/menhaden/reports/stockAssessments/2006StockAsses smentReport.pdf

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