MENHADEN, mr.w115/den (eorrupted from Narragansett Indian inunnuirhattralig. fertilizer: in allusion to its use as a fertilizer in the corn fields). A small fish (Breroortin tyrannns), close ly related to the shad (q.v.). which is caught in great quantities on our eastern coast during the summer months. Its length varies from 12 to 13 inches: the color of the upper parts is greenish brown with a black spot on the shoulder, the belly silvery, and the whole surface iridescent. The flesh is not highly esteemed ns food and is very full of small bones; but it is rich in oil and nit rogen.
Ecoxomic USES. The menhaden is one of the most interesting and valuable of American sea fishes, and its catching and utilization give oc cupation to a large amount of capital and number of men and vessels. (See FisnEtnEs.) It is ex tremely irregular in its movements and mmi hers, migrating into deep water or to warm lati tudes on the approach of cold weather, and re appearing north of ('ape Ilatteras with advancing warm weather. In so is years it has leen tremely numerous as far north as Nova Scotia ; while there have been periods when the fish seemed to have forsaken America altogether. It appears along shore in schools, which may con tain a million or two o fishes, swimming near the surface. With ordinary care such a school may be surrounded by a net, operated from two row-boats, and then hauled to the ship's side. where the net is pursed and the fish are dipped out and thrown into the hold. A catch of half a million is not unusual. Formerly small sail ing vessels were altogether used, brit since about 1875 high-powered, tug-like steamers have most ly replaced them. All along the shore from the Carolinas to eastern Maine are where these loads of menhaden are sold. Their bodies yield oil of a superior sort, useful for every purpose to which any fish or whale oil may lie applied. This is obtained by boiling and press ing. (See OIL) From the residue is made a nutritious animal food called 'fish meal,' and a highly nitrogenous ingredient of artificial pianos. In early times, following the example of the In dians, the fish themselves used to be spread upon the farms near shore, and plowed into the soil: lint it was found that apart from the extremely disagreeable taint this gave to the air of the whole region. the soil was injured by saturation
threat quantities of menhaden are also used as bait in the Banks fisheries; are sold fresh in the markets, Very cheaply: and are salted for do mestic use or to be exported to the West Indies; and the young are extensively canned in oil as 'American sardines' and `shadiness' The tisk has, however, a still higher economic value in serving as the food of other fishes important to us. It itself sists pushily upon minute vegetable (.011• tained in the mud of hays and ' soft shores, and enormously fec und. Every predaceous animal in The sea eats menhaden. Goode estimated that the total ll tit her of devoured fishes annually could only be counted by millions of millions; and he declared that were the menhaden to dis appar three•fourths of the value of the Anieri• can fisheries would instantly vanish.
The menhaden is known by an extraordinary untidier of different names: as Togy,' in Mame; 'bony fish' in eastern Connecticut: 'white fish' in western I ong Island Sound: 'bunker.' a shorten ing of `mossbunker' (q.v.), ;Mont New York and New Jersey; 'bugfish' or 'bughead' in Delaware and Chesapeake bays. referring to a parasitic crustacean (see PARASITE. ANIMAL) in the mouths of southern menhaden; and farther south as 'fatback.' 'yellowtail.' and 'savega'—the last the Portuguese term in South America. The men haden of the Gulf of Mexico is a variety locally called 'alewite,"herring,' etc.; aml other varieties extend the range of the species to Brazil.
litnuocauellY. Goode, "The Menhaden," an elaborate memoir, in Report of the r nited States Fish, Commission, part v. (%Vashington, and a more condensed neeount in Fishing Indus tries, see. i. (Washington, 1854), For a pictur esque account of catching menhaden, see the Peconies," in Harper's lvii. (New York, 1881). See Plate of HERRING AND SHAD.