The European sardine, or Pilchard, is truly an exquisite animal! A fleet phantom of turquoise and silver shimmering beneath the water, to savor the taste of this sweet canned morsel is such a delight. Yes.
This creature grows usually no longer than a mere twelve inches.
12” of fishy flesh is not much but it will do.
If you have been wanting to find these fish while they are still swimming in the water then you should travel to the Mediterranean. This is where they are most abundant.
Go to find a fisherman somewhere in Italy or France (these are very nice countries) and buy a fishing boat and a purse seine, which is a very good net for catching the little sardines. Take the boat out to sea on a moonless night and look with sharp eyes because you must find the glowing bioluminescence. This glow is from the single-celled plankton called dinoflagellates, this is what the pilchard are eating. When the plankton become agitated by the movement of the large schools they make light. If I was about to be eaten I would not be making light of the matter but so it goes. Single-celled organisms do not thoroughly think things through.
Where this light is there will very likely be a school of pilchard and there you can cast your net. You needn’t go very far out to sea, the pilchard will stay close to the shore.
If you put your net in the water where there is a school of sardines you will likely get a whole lot of them because the schools are very thick, and the fish are very close together. I forgot to mention before – the pilchard has one, just one, short dorsal fin and no scales on its head whatsoever. It is a very long fish, and very slippery.
Sometimes sardine oil is used in paint and varnish. If you are an artist or a house painter be sure to check what is in your paint (or varnish) if you are worried and maybe you don’t want to have fish in there.
I was very sad in 1995 many many pilchard near Australia died. It was something mysterious. A terrible virus1. Twenty-five miles of dead sardines were washed up along the coast of Tasmania. Can you imagine, how the light would have shimmered on their little bright bodies! Sometimes I just have to shake my head and ask God Why?
1. According to sneff. Thank you.