"Sardine" and "pilchard" are common name
s that refer to various small, oily forage fish
in the herring
. The term "sardine" was first used in English during the early 15th century and may come from the Mediterranean
island of Sardinia
, around which sardines were once abundant.
The terms "sardine" and "pilchard” are not precise, and what is meant depends on the region. The United Kingdom
's Sea Fish Industry Authority
, for example, classifies sardines as young pilchards.
One criterion suggests fish shorter in length than are sardines, and larger fish are pilchards.
Codex standard for canned sardines
cites 21 species that may be classed as sardines.
, a comprehensive database of information about fish, calls at least six species "pilchard", over a dozen just "sardine", and many more with the two basic names qualified by various adjectives.
'Sardine' first appeared in English in the 15th century, a loanword
from French ''sardine,'' derived from Latin
''sardina'', from Ancient Greek
''σαρδίνη'' (''sardínē'') or ''σαρδῖνος'' (''sardínos''), said to be from the Greek "Sardò" (''Σαρδώ''), indicating the island of Sardinia
quotes a fragmentary passage from Aristotle
mentioning the fish ''sardinos'', referring to the sardine or pilchard. However, Sardinia is about distant from Athens; Ernest Klein
in his ''Etymological Dictionary of the English Language'' (1971) writes, "It is hardly probable that the Greeks would have obtained fish from so far as Sardinia at a time relatively so early as that of Aristotle."
The flesh of some sardines or pilchards is a reddish-brown colour similar to some varieties of red sardonyx
or sardine stone; this word derives from ''σαρδῖον'' (''sardion'') with a root meaning 'red' and (according to Pliny
) possibly cognate with Sardis
, the capital of ancient Lydia
(now western Turkey
) where it was obtained. However, the name may refer to the reddish-pink colour of the gemstone sard
(or carnelian) known to the ancients.
The phrase "packed like sardines" (in a tin
) is recorded from 1911.
The phrase "...packed up like ''sardines''..." appears in ''The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction'' from 1841, and is a translation of "...encaissés comme des sardines" which appears in ''La Femme, le mari, et l'amant'' from 1829. Other early appearances of the idiom are "... packed together...like sardines in a tin-box" (1845), and "...packed...like sardines in a can..." (1854).
Sardines occur in several genera
* Genus ''Dussumieria
** Rainbow sardine
** Slender rainbow sardine
* Genus ''Escualosa
** Slender white sardine
** White sardine
* Genus ''Sardina
** European pilchard
(true sardine) (''Sardina pilchardus'')
* Genus ''Sardinella
** Goldstripe sardinella
** Indian oil sardine
** Round sardinella
* Genus ''Sardinops
** South American pilchard
File:Sardina pilchardus Gervais.jpg| The European pilchard, ''Sardina pilchardus''
File:Sardinops sagax.jpg| In the 1980s the South American pilchard, ''Sardinops sagax'', was the most intensively fished species of sardine. Some major stocks declined precipitously in the 1990s (see chart below).
File:Sardinops sagax caerulea.png| The Pacific sardine, ''Sardinops sagax caerulea''
Sardines feed almost exclusively on zooplankton
, "animal plankton", and congregate wherever this is abundant.
Typically, sardines are caught with encircling net
s, particularly purse seine
s. Many modifications of encircling nets are used, including traps
or fishing weir
s. The latter are stationary enclosures composed of stakes into which schools of sardines are diverted as they swim along the coast. The fish are caught mainly at night, when they approach the surface to feed on plankton
. After harvesting, the fish are submerged in brine
while they are transported to shore.
Sardines are commercially fished for a variety of uses: for bait; for immediate consumption; for drying, salting, or smoking; and for reduction into fish meal
or oil. The chief use of sardines is for human consumption, but fish meal is used as animal feed, while sardine oil has many uses, including the manufacture of paint
, and linoleum
Sardines are commonly consumed by human beings. Fresh sardines are often grilled, pickled, or smoked, or preserved in cans.
Sardines are rich in vitamins
. A small serving of sardines once a day can provide 13% of vitamin B2
; roughly one-quarter of niacin; and about 150% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12
. All B vitamins help to support proper nervous system
function and are used for energy metabolism, or converting food into energy. Also, sardines are high in the major minerals such as phosphorus
, and potassium
, and some trace minerals including iron and selenium
Sardines are also a natural source of marine omega-3 fatty acid
s, which may reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease.
Regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease
. These fatty acids can also lower blood sugar levels.
They are also a good source of vitamin D
, vitamin B12, and protein
Because they are low in the food chain, sardines are very low in contaminants, such as mercury
, relative to other fish
commonly eaten by humans.
History of sardine fishing in the UK
Pilchard fishing and processing became a thriving industry in Cornwall
from around 1750 to around 1880, after which it went into decline. Catches varied from year to year, and in 1871, the catch was 47,000 hogsheads
, while in 1877, only 9,477 hogsheads. A hogshead contained 2,300 to 4,000 pilchards, and when filled with pressed pilchards, weighed 476 lbs. The pilchards were mostly exported to Roman Catholic
countries such as Italy
, where they are known as ''fermades''. The chief market for the oil was Bristol
, where it was used on machinery.
Since 1997, sardines from Cornwall have been sold as "Cornish sardines", and since March 2010, under EU law, Cornish sardines have Protected Geographical Status
The industry has featured in numerous works of art, particularly by Stanhope Forbes
and other Newlyn School
The traditional "Toast to Pilchards" refers to the lucrative export of the fish to Catholic Europe:
:Here's health to the Pope, may he live to repent
:And add just six months to the term of his Lent
:And tell all his vassals from Rome to the Poles
:There's nothing like pilchards for saving their souls!
History of sardine fishing in the United States
In the United States, the sardine canning
industry peaked in the 1950s. Since then, the industry has been on the decline. The canneries in Monterey Bay
, in what was known as Cannery Row
in Monterey County, California
(where John Steinbeck
's novel of the same name
was set), failed in the mid-1950s. The last large sardine cannery in the United States, the Stinson Seafood plant in Prospect Harbor
, closed its doors on 15 April 2010 after 135 years in operation.
In April 2015 the Pacific Fishery Management Council
voted to direct NOAA
Fisheries Service to halt the current commercial season in Oregon
, because of a dramatic collapse in Pacific sardine stocks. The ban affected about 100 fishing boats with sardine permits, although far fewer were actively fishing at the time. The season normally would end June 30. The ban was expected to last for more than a year, and was still in place .
In popular culture
The manner in which sardines can be packed in a can has led to the popular English language saying "packed like sardines", which is used metaphorically to describe situations where people or objects are crowded closely together. The British-Irish poet and comic Spike Milligan
satirizes this in his poem "Sardine Submarine", where a sardine's mother describes the unfamiliar sight of a submarine to its offspring as "a tin full of people".
Sardines is also the name of a children's game
, where one person hides and each successive person who finds the hidden one packs into the same space until only one is left out, who becomes the next one to hide.
Among the residents of the Mediterranean
city of Marseille
, the local tendency to exaggerate is linked to a folk tale about a sardine
that supposedly blocked the city's port in the 18th century. It was actually blocked by a ship called the "Sartine."
* Sardine run
– Seafood Watch
, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Category:Fish of Hawaii
Category:Economy of Cornwall
Category:Fish common names
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