Fremantle pilchards are a bony fish belonging to the Order Clupeiformes which also includes the herrings and sardines. They are a schooling species common in coastal waters, particularly in sheltered bays and lagoons from zero to about 4000m depth over a geographical area extending from southern Japan to south Western Australia. They are an abundant and important commercial species around Indonesia where they sustain large commercial fisheries and are processed as fresh, canned or salted products. Recent studies have indicated that their population surges during certain ENSO events, such as La Nina. Fremantle Pilchard feed upon both zooplankton and phytoplankton in the open water.
Other common names include: Westralian Sardine, Scaly Mackerel
Occurrence at the Busselton Jetty:
Fremantle Pilchard has been seen occasionally from the Observatory windows, in amongst larger schools of Yellowtail Scad. They become visible within the school when they momentarily change course against the direction of the majority of the Scad school. Closer inspection often reveals the presence of a single dorsal fin and a distinct spot at the base of the opercular gill cover. This species was first sighted by tour guides in 2011 in which WA experienced a La Nina event.
Image by: O. Rynvis