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Anchovy Anchoa mitchilli (Cuvier and Valenciennes) 1848


[Jordan and Evermann (Stolephorus mitchills), 1896-1900, p. 446.]

Anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli)

Figure 51.—Anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli).


The only Gulf of Maine fishes with which one might confuse an anchovy are young herring, smelt, or silversides, but it is easily distinguished from the former by the wide mouth, as just noted; by its much larger eye; by the relative positions of the fins with the dorsal wholly behind the ventrals instead of over them and with the latter originating close behind the tips of the pectorals when these are laid back against the body; and by its much longer anal fin. The lack of an adipose fin behind the dorsal is sufficient to separate anchovy from smelt at a glance, while the silversides (Menidia) have two dorsal fins instead of one. The anchovy has large, thin, easily detached scales and a deeply forked tail. This species may be distinguished from the striped anchovy by the fact that its anal fin originates under the front of the dorsal; by its more or less diffuse lateral band of silver; by its more numerous anal fin rays (24 to 27 contrasted with 20 or 21 for the striped anchovy), and by its relatively small size, for it seldom exceeds 3 inches in length. The body is about 4 to 5 times as long as deep in both anchovies.


This is a whitish silvery, translucent little fish, its most characteristic marking being an ill-defined silvery band scarcely wider than the pupil of the eye, running from the gill opening back to the caudal fin. There are also many dark dots on body and fins.


Seldom more than 31/2 inches long.

General range—

Coast of the United States from Maine to Texas, chiefly west and south of Cape Cod.

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Occurrence in the Gulf of Maine—

We mention the anchovy because it has been taken in Casco Bay and at Provincetown. It has no real place in the Gulf of Maine fauna, seldom straying past Cape Cod, though it is abundant about Woods Hole and thence westward and southward. Stragglers may be expected most often in the Gulf in midsummer for it appears from May to October in southern New England waters. Sandy beaches and the mouths of rivers are its chief resorts. An account of its embryology and larval development is given by Kuntz.[41]

[41] Bulletin. U. S. Bur. of Fish., vol. 33, 1915, p. 13.