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mackerel

mackerel, common name for members of the family Scombridae, open-sea fishes including the albacore, bonito, and tuna. They are characterized by deeply forked tails that narrow greatly where they join the body; small finlets behind both the dorsal and the anal fins; and sleek, streamlined bodies with smooth, almost scaleless skins having an iridescent sheen. All members of the mackerel family are superb, swift swimmers. The firm, oily texture of their powerful muscles and their generally large size make them of great commercial importance as food fish. They travel in schools, feeding on other fish (chiefly herring) and on squid, and migrate between deep and shallow waters. The smaller species rely on the constant rush of water through their gills for sufficient oxygen and will suffocate if motionless. The largest of the family, the enormous (up to 3/4 ton/680 kg) tunas, are among the few warm-blooded fishes, due to the constant operation of their huge banks of muscles. Of the smaller members of the family, the Atlantic, or common, mackerel, Scomber scombrus, found in colder waters off North America and Europe, is one of the smallest (11/2 lb/0.675 kg average). Despite its size, the annual catch is 1 million tons, which is marketed fresh, salted, and canned. Intermediate between the Atlantic mackerel and the bonitos (see tuna) are the frigate mackerels, or frigate tunas, found in warm seas. Spotted species found off the Florida and Gulf coasts include the Spanish, painted (or cero), and Serra mackerels, averaging 10 to 15 lb (4.5–6.7 kg). Other species are the king mackerel, also called kingfish (up to 60 lb/27 kg); the chub mackerel, similar to the Atlantic mackerel; and the cosmopolitan and more solitary wahoo, or peto. The snake mackerels, including the escolars and oilfish (some species of which are sometimes marketed as white tuna or codfish), belong to the family Gempylidae. Mackerels and snake mackerels are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, families Scombridae and Gempylidae, respectively.

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mackerel

mackerel mackerel sky a sky dappled with rows of small white fleecy (typically cirrocumulus) clouds, like the pattern on a mackerel's back, recorded from the mid 17th century. It is traditionally believed to herald a change in the weather, as noted in the weather rhyme: ‘Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, Never long wet, never long dry.’

See also a sprat to catch a mackerel.

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mackerel

mack·er·el / ˈmak(ə)rəl/ • n. (pl. same or mackerels ) a migratory surface-dwelling predatory fish. The mackerel family (Scombridae) includes many species, in particular the North Atlantic mackerel (S. scombrus), commercially important as a food fish.

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mackerel

mackerel Fast-swimming, agile, marine food fish related to the tunny, found in n Atlantic, n Pacific and Indian oceans. They have streamlined bodies and powerful tails. The body colour is silvery blue with dark side bars. It feeds on smaller fish and plankton. Length: 61cm (2ft). Family Scombridae.

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mackerel

mackerel An oily fish, Scomber scombrus. A 150‐g portion is a rich source of protein, vitamins D, B2, B6, B12, niacin, copper, iodine, and selenium; a source of vitamin B1 and iron; contains 24 g of fat, of which 20% is saturated; supplies 330 kcal (1390 kJ).

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mackerel

mackerel XIII. — AN. makerel, OF. maquerel (mod. maquereau), medL. macarellus; of unkn. orig. See -REL.

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mackerel

mackerel See SCOMBRIDAE.

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mackerel

mackerelapparel, barrel, carol, Carole, carrel, Carroll, Darrell, Darryl, Farrell •gambrel • spandrel •astral, plastral •cracker-barrel •Errol, feral •petrel, petrol •spectral •central, epicentral, ventral •ancestral, kestrel, orchestral •dextral • Sacheverell • mayoral •sacral • wastrel • cerebral •anhedral, cathedral, dihedral, tetrahedral •hypaethral (US hypethral), urethral •squirrel, Tyrol, Wirral •timbrel, whimbrel •minstrel • arbitral • sinistral • integral •triumviral •spiral, viral •amoral, Balmoral, coral, immoral, laurel, moral, quarrel, sorel, sorrel •cockerel, Cockerell •dotterel • rostral •aboral, aural, choral, floral, goral, oral •austral, claustral •scoundrel • cloistral • neutral • figural •augural •demurral, Durrell •mongrel • sepulchral • lustral •spheral • retiral •crural, jural, mural, neural, plural, rural •illiberal, liberal •natural • federal • peripheral •doggerel • mackerel • pickerel •bicameral, unicameral •admiral •ephemeral, femoral •humeral, numeral •general • mineral • funeral •spatio-temporal, temporal •corporal • tesseral • visceral •bilateral, collateral, equilateral, lateral, multilateral, quadrilateral, trilateral, unilateral •pastoral •electoral, pectoral, prefectoral, protectoral •clitoral, literal, littoral, presbyteral •dipteral, peripteral •doctoral • several • behavioural •conferral, deferral, referral, transferral

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Mackerel

Mackerel

Resources

The Atlantic mackerel, Scomber scombrus, supports one of the most important commercial fisheries and is also a significant sport fishing interest. Mackrel are a close relative of the tuna. The attraction of mackerel as sport fish is due primarily to the streamlined body, forked tail, pointed head, and high-speed swimming. An unusual characteristic of the mackerel is that it does not possess a swim-bladder. Mackerel are found in large schools in the Atlantic Ocean from the New England coast to the Carolinas, and in the Eastern Atlantic south to Spain.

The average size of mackerel is less than a pound (0.5 kg), although some fish weighing 2 lb (1 kg) are found in deeper water. Mackerel feed on pilchards, herrings, small schooling fish, and small crustaceans, such as shrimp.

At spawning time female mackerel lay up to 500,000 eggs, which float due to the presence of oil droplets. Spawning occurs in the mid-Atlantic states in the latter half of May and throughout June, and a few weeks later further north. The eggs hatch in about 96-120 hours, the lower the temperature the longer it takes for them to hatch.

The Atlantic mackerel can be distinguished from other species of mackerel by a pattern of up to 24 wavy black lines along the sides of its body above the lateral line. The chub mackerel, S. japonicus, is smaller than the Atlantic mackerel, but closely resembles it in its behavior and physical characteristics (but has fewer, fainter black markings than the Atlantic mackerel).

The Pacific mackerel is the only mackerel found on the west coast of North America and it is the same species (S. scombrus ) as is found in the Atlantic Ocean. Pacific mackerel are found from Chile to Alaska and along the coasts of Japan and the mainland coast of Asia.

The kingfish of king mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla ranges widely in size from under 10 lb (5 kg) to more than 20 lb (9 kg). Some specimens caught in nets have been reported to weigh 100 lb (45 kg) and to exceed 5 ft (1.5 m) in length. The king mackerel has a blue-green back and silver sides, and a lateral line that is positioned high near the head and quickly descends below the second dorsal fin. King mackerel are found in great numbers in the Caribbean in the spring time migrating up the Atlantic coast with some entering the Gulf of Mexico.

The Spanish mackerel (S. maculatus ) is a close relative of the king mackerel but grows only up to 12 lb (6 kg), the average being under 2 lb (1 kg). In warm offshore and inshore waters, the Spanish mackerel is subjected to heavy commercial and sport fishing.

The sierra, S. sierra, is very similar to the Spanish mackerel (some taxonomists consider them to be the same species)

KEY TERMS

Caudal peduncle The area immediately posterior to the anal fin and extending to the base of the caudal or tail fin.

Dorsal fin A fin located on the back of a fish.

Keel A raised prominence or ridge often associated with the caudal peduncle.

Lateral line A line of pores opening on the side of the fish which has been shown to be sensitive to pressure changes.

Lunate A term which refers to the shape of the tail fin. This form resembles the early phase of the moon (lunar).

Pectoral fin One of paired fins located at the proximate shoulder of the fish and which corresponds to the forelegs of airbreathing vertebrates on land.

Swim bladder or air bladder An elongated membranous pouch filled with gases and which aids the fish to remain buoyant.

same species) and is found in warm waters from Baja California to South America.

The cero, S. regalis, is found together with the Spanish and with king mackerels, and is characterized by rows of yellow or brown spots along its sides. The frigate mackerel, Auxis thazard, closely resembles the tuna because it has a lunate tail rather than the forked tail typical of mackerels.

See also Tuna.

Resources

BOOKS

Hoese, H. Dickson, and R.H. Moore. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Adjacent Waters. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998.

Migdalski, E.C., and G.S. Fichter. The Fresh and Salt Water Fishes of the World. New York: Greenwich House, 1982.

Nelson, Joseph S. Fishes of the World. 4th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.

Nathan Lavenda

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Mackerel

Mackerel

The Atlantic mackerel, Somber scombrus, supports one of the most important commercial fisheries and supports a significant sport fishing interest. The fish is a close relative of the tuna . The attraction of mackerel as sport fish is due primarily to the streamlined body, forked tail, pointed head, and high-speed swimming. An unusual characteristic of the mackerel is that it does not possess a swim-bladder. Mackerel are found in large schools in the Atlantic Ocean from the New England coast to the Carolinas, and in the Eastern Atlantic south to Spain.

The average size of mackerel is less than a pound (1/2 kg) although some fish weighing 2 lb (1 kg) are found in deeper water . Mackerel feed on pilchards, herrings , small schooling fish, and small crustaceans such as shrimp .

At spawning time female mackerels lay up to 500,000 eggs, which float due to the presence of oil droplets. Spawning occurs in the mid Atlantic states in the latter half of May and throughout June, and a few weeks later further north. The eggs hatch in about 96-120 hours, the lower the temperature the longer it takes for them to hatch.

The Atlantic mackerel can be distinguished from other species of mackerels by the pattern of up to 24 wavy black lines along the sides of its body above the


lateral line. The chub mackerel, S. japonicus, is smaller than the Atlantic mackerel but closely resembles it in its behavior and physical characteristics (but has fewer, fainter black markings than the Atlantic mackerel).

The Pacific mackerel is the only mackerel found on the west coast of North America and is the same species (S. scombrus) as is found in the Atlantic Ocean. Pacific mackerels are found from Chile to Alaska and along the coasts of Japan and the mainland coast of Asia .

The kingfish of king mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla ranges widely in size from under 10 lb (5 kg) to more than 20 lb (9 kg). Some specimens caught in nets have been reported to weigh 100 lb (45 kg) and to exceed 5 ft (1.5 m) in length. The king mackerel has a blue-green back and silver sides, and a lateral line that is positioned high near the head and quickly descends below the second dorsal fin. King mackerel are found in great numbers in the Caribbean in the spring time migrating up the Atlantic coast with some entering the Gulf of Mexico.

The Spanish mackerel (S. maculatus) is a close relative of the king mackerel but grows only up to 12 lb (6 kg), the average being under 2 lb (1 kg). In warm offshore and inshore waters, the Spanish mackerel is subjected to heavy commercial and sport fishing.

The sierra, S. sierra, is very similar to the Spanish mackerel (some taxonomists consider them to be the same species) and is found in warm waters from Baja California to South America .

The cero, S. regalis, is found together with the Spanish and with king mackerels, and is characterized by rows of yellow or brown spots along its sides. The frigate mackerel, Auxis thazard, closely resembles the tuna because it has a lunate tail rather than the forked tail typical of mackerels.

See also Tuna.


Resources

books

Hoese, H. Dickson, and R. H. Moore. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Adjacent Waters. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998.

Migdalski, E. C., and G. S. Fichter. The Fresh & Salt Water Fishes of the World. New York: Greenwich House, 1982.


Nathan Lavenda

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Caudal peduncle

—The area immediately posterior to the anal fin and extending to the base of the caudal or tail fin.

Dorsal fin

—A fin located on the back of a fish.

Keel

—A raised prominence or ridge often associated with the caudal peduncle.

Lateral line

—A line of pores opening on the side of the fish which has been shown to be sensitive to pressure changes.

Lunate

—A term which refers to the shape of the tail fin. This form resembles the early phase of the moon (lunar).

Pectoral fin

—One of paired fins located at the proximate shoulder of the fish and which corresponds to the forelegs of airbreathing vertebrates on land.

Swim bladder or air bladder

—An elongated membranous pouch filled with gases and which aids the fish to remain buoyant.

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