Sardines are the small fish we often see prepared as food packed tightly in small flat cans. These small fish belong to the herring fish family. When full-grown, sardines may be 10 or more inches long and are called herring, pilchards, sprats and other names. They are caught while they are still very small.
You sardines travel together in large groups called “schools.” Fishermen catch them in long nets, which are drawn in a circle around a large school that may contain many, many small sardines. At the sardine cannery, the fish are cleaned and dipped in salt brine and dried.
Finally, they are cooked in boiling oil and packed tightly into the familiar flat sardine cans and soaked in olive oil to keep them moist. Many of the sardines caught are not canned at all, but made into fertilizer or feed for poultry.
And some are made into oil used to make soaps and paints. Sardines get their name from the fact that these small fish were first caught in large numbers of the island of Sardinia, near Italy. – Dick Rogers