Northern Anchovy

Northern Anchovy, Engraulis mordax

The Northern Anchovy, Engraulis mordax, whose common Spanish name is anchoveta norteña, is a species in the Anchovy or Engraudlidae Family, known collectively as sardina in Mexico. Globally, there are only eight species in the genus Engraulis, two of which are found in Mexican waters, one in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific.

The Northern Anchovies are the most abundant anchovies found on the West Coast. They are characterized by a slender, elongated, and rounded body featuring a long, sharply-pointed snout. They have a short anal fin base and short pectoral fins.  Young fish have a silver stripe along their sides. A key identification characteristic is their anal fin, which originates under the end of their dorsal fin.

The Northern Anchovies collect near the water surface at night and vertically migrate to depths of up to 1,000 feet during the day. They can reach a maximum length of 23 cm (9.1 inches).

In Mexican waters the Northern Anchovy are found along the entire west coast of Baja and in the lower two-thirds of the Sea of Cortez.

The Northern Anchovy can easily be confused with the Slender Anchovy, Anchoa exigua (narrow silver stripe along flank, anal fin originating under the center of the dorsal fin) and the Sharpnose Anchovy, Anchoa ischana (silver stripe along the flank, which is narrow at the front and broad at the tail, short-based anal fin originating at the end of the dorsal fin).

The Northern Anchovy is an abundant but small fish that are retained for use as a live bait or by subsistence fishermen.

Northern Anchovy, Engraulis mordax. Fish caught off the Oceanside Pier, Oceanside, California, June 2006. Length: 10 cm (3.9 inches).