Staying together's their way of life. Like synchronized swimmers, sardines in a school move together as one. This communal lifestyle's good for these small fish. When predators come near, there's safety in numbers. And when it's time to reproduce, there's no need to seek out mates—plenty are close at hand.
It's been a boom and bust history for the Pacific sardine fishery. During the 1920s through the 1940s, sardines were the most important commercial fish in California. However, under high demand for canned fish, fish meal and oil, this species was fished to the point of commercial extinction. Due to strict fisheries management and improved habitat conditions, Pacific sardine populations began to recover in the 1980s and now support a modest fishery off California.
Sardines are an important part of the open water food web. Many birds, marine mammals and other fishes eat sardines as a mainstay of their diets.