Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Pacific Sardine

Sardinops sagax


Fun Facts

    The Pacific sardine form large schools of up to 10 million fish.

    Sardines can spawn several times within a reproductive season and a large female can produce up to 200,000 eggs in a season.



  The Pacific sardine is a coastal fish that grows to just over 1 foot in length and may live up to 25 years. It is a schooling species that is often associated with anchovy, hake, and mackerel. Sardines are filter feeders, eating mostly small crustaceans. This is an ecologically important species because a large variety of marine birds, large fishes, and marine mammals feed on sardines.

During the 1930s, the Pacific sardine was one of the largest volume fisheries in the United States with catches often over 200,000 metric tons. The fishery extended from Southern California into Canada with an active sardine fishery in Oregon from 1935-1940. There was a collapse of the fishery in the late 1940s which many people attributed to overfishing. However, recent evidence has shown that sardine populations show multi-decadal fluctuations and are sensitive to climate changes known as regime shifts. Pacific sardines have made a strong comeback over the past decade. Currently, populations of Pacific sardine are assessed annually to provide a scientific basis for the annual harvest guidelines or quota.

Pacific sardine are usually found at the Aquarium in tank number 34.