This page was last updated on , © Gulf of Maine Research Institute
|Herring Biology: Distribution|
The Atlantic herring is a schooling, pelagic (open water) species found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
If, on a chart of the North Atlantic, you were to draw a line linking Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to the Straits of Gibraltar, it and the great arc of coastal continental shelves to the north would outline the range of the Atlantic herring.
Within its extensive range, the Atlantic herring extends into the Gulf of Maine, the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Labrador Sea, the Davis Straits, the Beaufort Sea, the Denmark Straits, the Norwegian Sea, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea, and the Bay of Biscay.
Although it frequents northern waters, the Atlantic herring is not considered an Arctic species. In the western North Atlantic, the northern extent of its range lies to the south of Baffin Island and western Greenland.
At a smaller spatial scale and greater resolution, the distribution of Atlantic herring populations is variable and complex. Herring travel from spawning sites to feeding grounds in a migratory cycle that is dependent on the season as well as the herring's life-history stage. While fishermen and scientists have long understood the general migratory patterns of herring, the details are still a focus of research today.