Revisiting the Topic of Sardines
The Sardine Run and all of the excitement that comes along with it is just a few months away. We thought that it is the best time to brush up on sardines.
- It is believed that the name Sardine comes from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where sardines were abundant in the 15th
- Sardines are in the same family as Herring, namely Clupeidae.
- These small oily fish are rich in nutrients and consumed the world over and not only by humans but also seabirds, marine mammals and larger fish. Sardines along with other small pelagic fish account for about ¼ of all the marine fish caught throughout the world. Most of us know sardines as an omega-3 fatty acid mostly enjoyed from tins purchased at the local grocer, but these fish can also be purchased fresh and then grilled, pickled or smoked.
- Sardines are also used for commercial fishing purposes or made into fish meal or oil that is used in animal feeds. Sardine oil is also used in the manufacture of paint, varnish or linoleum.
- Sardines live mostly in the upper layers of the ocean, to a depth of about 200m. At dusk, sardines move closer to the surface of the water and at dawn, they move into deeper water. This phenomenon is known as Diurnal Vertical Migration. This means that they follow the light. Diurnal migration is used as a defence system from predators. As sardines move to the surface they scatter, and when they descend again they concentrate on forming shoals.
- Sardines are well camouflaged from predators by their colouring. Their abdomens are lighter than their backs. Swarming together when predators are closing in on them confuses the predator, as predators are then not sure how big their prey is. Predators also then struggle to single out one sardine in the group. Safety in numbers really works for these fish!
- Sardines live off phytoplankton and zooplankton. They play an important role in the marine food chain as they, by been consumed by larger fish, sea birds and marine mammals, then transfer the energy produced by the plankton to their predators.
- Although Sardines can live up to an age eight years and measure up to 25cm from the tip of head to tail, they do have a very high mortally rate and rarely reach that age or size.
Why are Sardines so healthy?
- Sardines are an excellent source of protein and because they feed on plankton, they contain much less mercury and other heavy metals that are found in larger fish.
- As the sun becomes a place we avoid, so more and more people are Vitamin D deficient. One can of sardines give you about half of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D you need.
- Sardines are a rich source of selenium. Selenium is needed for our bodies to produce glutathione while it is also important for maintaining a healthy thyroid. Sardines are consumed with their skin and bones, thus making sardines a great way to get 1/3 of the calcium we need in one tin in its most absorbable way.