Shorefishes of the Greater Caribbean online information system

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Species: Alosa aestivalis, Blueback Herring, Blueback Shad

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

snout > eye
back blue; dark shoulder spot
top edge of lower jaw rises steeply within mouth
gill rakers 41-51
jaw teeth minute/absent
lining of gut cavity dark/black

Alosa aestivalis (Mitchill, 1814)

Blueback Herring, Blueback Shad

Relatively deep bodied, moderately compressed; snout longer than eye; upper jaw with a distinct central notch into which the lower jaw fits; upper edge of lower jaw rising steeply within mouth; minute jaw teeth at front that disappear with age; 41-51 slender lower gill rakers, upper rakers long, folding down over lower ones; gill rakers on rear surface of upper part of 3rd gill arch; dorsal fin at about mid-body; pelvic fins (i, 8) below dorsal fin; anal fin short and well behind dorsal fin base; a forked tail fin; all of centerline of belly with keel of scutes (hard, spiny scales); no scutes before dorsal fin; scales smooth, well attached.

Upper back distinctly blue, sometimes with dusky lines in adults, shading to silver below; a dark spot behind gill cover of adults; fins yellow to green; lining of gut cavity black.

Reaches 47 cm.

Coastal pelagic, enters freshwater and brackish water to spawn.

Depth range: 0-5 m.

Canada to Florida.

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  • Brackish
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
  • Inshore
  • Inshore Only
Water Column Position
  • Mid Water
  • Near Surface
  • Surface
  • Water column only
  • Water column
  • Estuary
  • Freshwater
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Planktivore
  • Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Bony fishes
  • Insects
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Octopus/squid/cuttlefish
Egg Type
  • Data
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • Greater Caribbean non-endemic
  • West Atlantic Endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • Continent only
  • Extends North of GC
  • GC non-endemic
  • All species
  • Vagrant
Climate Zone
  • Subtropical (23-35N, Florida / Carolinas / Bermuda)
  • Temperate (>35N)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Vulnerable
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 47
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 5