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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

South American Pilchard Sardinops sagax

Enormous shoals of these fish, made up of millions of individuals, were once found, but excessive fishing has reduced their numbers greatly. Pilchards are an important food fish and are also used to produce oil and fish meal. The South American pilchard may, in fact, be the same species as the California pilchard, and, worldwide, all pilchard species are very similar. These silvery, medium-sized fish are blue-green on the back and have a series of black marks along the sides.

South American Pilchardzoom image
  • Order Clupeiformes
  • Length Up to 16 in (40 cm)
  • Weight Up to 17 oz (485 g)
  • Depth 0–650 ft (0–200 m)
  • Distribution West coast of South America and southeastern Pacific
South American Pilchard habitat mapzoom image