PILCHARD (in earlier 16th century forms pylcher, pilchar; of unknown origin; the Fr. pilseir is adapted from Eng.), Clupea pilchardus, a fish of the herring family (Clupeidae), abundant in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic coasts of Europe, north to the English Channel. Sardine is another name for the same fish, which on the coast of Britanny and Normandy is also called celan or celeren. It is readily distinguished from the other European species of Clupea. The operculum is sculptured with ridges radiating and descending towards the suboperculum; the scales are large, about thirty along the lateral line, deciduous; the ventral fins are inserted below, or nearly below, the middle of the base of the dorsal fin; the dorsal fin has seventeen or eighteen, the anal from nineteen to twenty-one rays. A small blackish spot in the scapulary region is very constant, and sometimes succeeded by other similar marks. There are no teeth on the palate; pyloric appendages exist in great numbers; the vertebrae number fifty-three. The pilchard is one of the most important fishes of the English Channel. It spawns at a distance from the shore, and its eggs are buoyant, like those of many other marine fishes and unlike those of the herring, which are adhesive and demersal, i.e. develop under water. The egg of the pilchard is very easily distinguished from other pelagic eggs by the unusually large space separating the vitelline membrane from the contained ovum. Spawning takes place in summer, the season extending from June to October. When commencing their migrations towards the land the shoals consist of countless numbers, but they break up into smaller companies near the shore. Pilchards feed on minute crustaceans and other pelagic animals and require two or three years before they attain their full size, which is about 10 in. in length. The sardines of the west coast of France, which are tinned in oil for export, are immature fish of the same stock as those taken on the coasts of Cornwall; they are 5 to 7^ in. in length, and though such fish occur also on the Cornish coast it is only in small numbers and for brief periods. In the Mediterranean the sardine does not exceed 7^ in. in length when mature. On the Pacific coast of America, in New Zealand and in Japan a pilchard occurs (Clupea sagax) which in its characters and habits is so similar to the European pilchard that its general utilization is deserving of attention. Immense shoals are reported to visit the east coast of Otago every year in February and March. Clupea scombrina is the " oil sardine " of the east coast of India.
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Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)