1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Anchovy

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ANCHOVY (Engraulis encrasicholus), a fish of the herring family, easily distinguished by its deeply-cleft mouth, the angle of the gape being behind the eyes. The pointed snout extends beyond the lower jaw. The fish resembles a sprat in having a forked tail and a single dorsal fin, but the body is round and slender. The maximum length is 81/8 in. Anchovies are abundant in the Mediterranean, and are regularly caught on the coasts of Sicily, Italy, France and Spain. The range of the species also extends along the Atlantic coast of Europe to the south of Norway. In winter it is common off Devon and Cornwall, but has not hitherto been caught in such numbers as to be of commercial importance. Off the coast of Holland in summer it is more plentiful, entering the Zuider Zee in such numbers as to give rise to a regular and valuable fishery. It is also taken in the estuary of the Scheldt. There is reason to believe that the anchovies found at the western end of the English Channel in November and December are those which annually migrate from the Zuider Zee and Scheldt in autumn, returning thither in the following spring; they must be held to form an isolated stock, for none come up from the south in summer to occupy the English Channel, though the species is resident on the coast of Portugal. The explanation appears to be that the shallow and landlocked waters, of the Zuider Zee, as well as the sea on the Dutch coast, become raised to a higher temperature in summer than any part of the sea about the British coasts, and that therefore anchovies are able to spawn and maintain their numbers in these waters. Their reproduction and development were first described by a Dutch naturalist from observations made on the shores of the Zuider Zee. Spawning takes place in June and July, and the eggs, like those of the majority of marine fishes, are buoyant and transparent, but they are peculiar in having an elongated, sausage-like shape, instead of being globular. They resemble those of the sprat and pilchard in having a segmented yolk and there is no oil globule. The larva is hatched two or three days after the fertilization of the egg, and is very minute and transparent. In August young specimens 11/2 to 31/2 in. in length have been taken in the Zuider Zee, and these must be held to have been derived from the spawning of the previous summer. There is no evidence to decide the question whether all the young anchovies as well as the adults leave the Zuider Zee in autumn, but, considering the winter temperature there, it is probable that they do. The eggs have also been obtained from the Bay of Naples, and near Marseilles, also off the coast of Holland, and once at least off the coast of Lancashire. The occurrence of anchovies in the English Channel has been carefully studied at the laboratory of the Marine Biological Association at Plymouth. They were most abundant in 1889 and 1890. In the former year considerable numbers were taken off Dover in drift nets of small mesh used for the capture of sprats. In the following December large numbers were taken together with sprats at Torquay. In November 1890 a thousand of the fish were obtained in two days from the pilchard boats fishing near Plymouth; these were caught near the Eddystone. When taken in British waters anchovies are either thrown away or sent to the market fresh with the sprats. If salted in the proper way, they would doubtless be in all respects equal to Dutch anchovies, if not to those imported from Italy. The supply, however, is small and inconstant, and for this reason English fish-curers have not learnt the proper way of preparing them. The so-called “Norwegian anchovies” imported into England in little wooden kegs are nothing but sprats pickled in brine with bay-leaves and whole pepper.  (J. T. C.)