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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Bulletin No. 36. A Bibliography of the Sardines


"Packed like sardines in a can" is a familiar enough expression but to few persons is it known that the sardine packing business in Cornwall, England, and Brittany, France, is the life blood of commerce and the very sustenance of the fisherfolk. Nor is it much more widely known that the California sardine furnishes by far the largest output of any single fish (494,000,000 pounds for 1930) in the huge fishing industry of this State. Some seasons in Europe the sardine comes in enormous schools and then at other times fails to put in an appearance. A French expression "la crise sardinière" (the sardine crisis) conveys the idea that a failure takes on the proportions of a disaster, and such it is to the people who depend upon it almost solely for food and employment. As would be expected much has been written to account for the erratic habits of this fish, which is so vital to the commercial life of our State as well as certain parts of Europe. So in the hope that a collection of all the theories and the facts, both scientific and commercial, might prove of assistance to those interested, this bibliography has been compiled.

The work of compiling was started by Mrs. Ruth Miller Thompson and completed by the writer after almost two years of research in eleven libraries on both the east and west coasts of the United States. Papers dealing with life history, classification, anatomy and commercial information about the sardines of the world are included. The list is as complete as possible but some papers were omitted for lack of sufficient information and doubtless others have been overlooked. The species included are Sardina pilchardus (Europe), Sardina melanosticta (Japan), Sardina ocellata (South Africa), Sardina sajax (west coast of South America), and Sardina caerulea (west coast of North America). Other names than these have crept in through synonomy and because it seemed wise to include fossil forms. It must be confessed that even the herring worked itself in, but this fish, once inside a tin, often masquerades as a sardine, and to the person interested in fish canning and disposal of fish waste, a sardine is a sardine no matter if it is a masquerading herring.

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