Fish which resembles the pilchard, in habits and shape but is found further north. The herring is quite small, thin with silvery scales which do not extend to the head, it has small teeth and open gills. It has only one dorsal fin and one short ventral with no spines spines in the fins. The lower edge of the herring is flattened and covered with bony plates varyingly sharp and serrated. It feeds largely on small copepod crustaceans of the plankton. Its colour varies between a not very pronounced green and blue, and its scales detach when the fish is roughly handled. It is a cold water fish and develops to a larger size in the more northern seas. In the English Channel it reaches a length of twelve inches but in the northern seas it can be seventeen inches.
It deposits its eggs on the bottom, which hatch out adhering in masses to stones and weeds. The number of eggs deposited by the female varies from 20,000 to 50,000 and the eggs are opaque and have a thick adhesive envelope. Herring take about two years to reach maturity, their silvery scales appearing when they are about one and a half inches long.
This fish is found in large quantities off the shores of the British Isles as well as along the eastern border of North America up to the coast of the Behring Strait. It can also be found in the White Sea of Russia and down the coasts of Norway and Denmark, it is not found in the Mediteranean. It is essentially a migratory fish, never remaining in any district for more than a few days.
The spawn is shed twice a year but the autumn is the more dominant, the seasons can vary considerably. Hence great patience and skill is needed in the capture of the herring. Herrings were an important source of income and diet in ancient times, being rich in easily digestible oils.