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Synonyms
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  • Alausa californica  Gill, 1862:33.
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  • Sardina sagax  , , (part):Regan, 1916:13 (combined with sagax, ocellata and caerulea).
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  • Sardina sagax  Clemens & Wilby, 1961:101, fig. 35 (Canada, Pacific); Hart, 1973:100, fig. (Canada, Pacific, synopsis).
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  • Sardinops caeruleus  Hubbs, 1929:265 (doubted species status, however); Ahlstrom, 1960:417 (synopsis); Fitch & Lavenberg, 1971:54, fig. 16 (California); Miller & Lea, 1972:54.
    FAO Names
    En - California pilchard, Fr - Pilchard de Californie, Sp - Sardina monterrey.
    3Alpha Code: CPI     Taxonomic Code: 1210501302
    Scientific Name with Original Description
    Meletta caerulea  Girard, 1854, Proc.Acad.nat.Sci.Philad., 7:138 (San Francisco).
    Diagnostic Features
    The radiating bony striae on the operculum distinguishes this species from all other clupeids in the area; in addition, Clupea pallasii has the pelvic fin insertion before the dorsal fin origin and lacks spots on the flanks; Etrumeus teres lacks scutes along the belly; and Alosa sapidissima is deeper-body and has a distinct median notch in the upper jaw. 
    Geographical Distribution

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    Alaska (southeastern coast) south to C. San Lucas and throughout the Gulf of California.
    Habitat and Biology
    Coastal,pelagic, in large (or in the past very large) schools (up to 10 million individuals estimated in times of abundance);migratory, with a definite northward movement between California and British Columbia waters in summer and return (autumn, winter).Feeds on zooplankton (chiefly small crustaceans), also phytoplankton, mainly by filter-feeding; also by pecking at individual animals.
    Breeds mainly off the southern California coast about 80 km offshore between Point Conception and San Diego; January to June, but a peak in April to May (at night); eggs pelagic; some individuals spawn in their first year, but most in their second; scale studies suggest that some fishes live 20 to 25 years. 
    Size
    To about 36 cm standard length; usually to 25 cm.
    Interest to Fisheries
    Landings (variously 70 to 100% from California) reached a peak in 1936 (791 100 t), but from 1944 declined until the California fishery collapsed and a moratorium was declared (1967). Since then, the catches started to recover reaching a maximum in 1989 with 509 248 t. In the latest years, after a decrease in 1993 (about 200 000 t), the total catch reached 412 433 t in 1995, 90% of which was taken by Mexico, the rest by USA. The total catch reported for this species to FAO for 1999 was 374 314 t. The countries with the largest catches were Mexico (314 370 t) and USA (59 944 t). Most common fishing technique is "small pelagic purse seining".
    Local Names
    USA : Pacific sardine (AFS list).
    Remarks
    Hildebrand (1946:87) compared Peruvian and Californian pilchards and failed to find significant differences. Of all the pilchards, these two are most likely to be the same species, in which ease the name Pacific pilchard should be given to both. Nevertheless, Miller & Lea (1972:212) stated that J.E. Fitch had discovered significant otolith and other differences suggesting that S. caeruleus and Sardina sagax are distinct species and not subspecies.
    Source of Information
    FAO Species catalogue Vol. 7. Clupeoid fishes of the world. (Suborder CLUPEOIDEI) An annotated and illustrated catalogue of the herrings, sardines, pilchards, sprats, anchovies and wolf-herrings. Part 1. Chirocentridae, Clupeidae and Pristigasteridae.Whitehead, P.J.P. 1985.  FAO Fish. Synop., (125)Vol.7 Pt. 1:303 p.
    Bibliography
    Ahlstrom, (1960 - biology, fishery, synopsis)
    Clemens & Wilby, (1961 - Canada, synopsis)
    Fitch & Lavenberg, (1971 - California, synopsis)
    Hart, (1973 - Canada, synopsis, biology an excellent summary)
    Marr, (1960 - fishery)
    Radovich, (1960 - fishery)
     
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