Information from Fishes of Chesapeake Bay & Fishes of the Gulf of Maine

Spanish mackerel - Scomberomorus maculatus


spanish mackerel

Diagnostic characters: Lateral line gradually curving downward to caudal peduncle; dorsal fins continguous; first dorsal fin with 17-19 slender spines (usually 19); anterior third of first dorsal fin black; side silvery; marked with about 3 rows of round to elliptical dusky spots (orange in life), and without longitudinal stripes. Body elongate and strongly compressed; head compressed; snout pointed; mouth large and oblique; teeth in jaws compressed; body entirely covered by small scales; second dorsal fin tall anteriorly and short-based, followed by 7-9 finlets; caudal peduncle slender, 2 small keels and 1 large median keel between them present on either side of caudal peduncle; caudal fin broadly forked; anal fin similiar in size and shape to second dorsal fin and originiating posterior to it; anal fin followed by 7-10 finlets; pelvin fin small; pectoral fin short. Dusky blue dorsally; silvery ventrally.

Size: Maximum adult size 77 cm FL

Habitat, biology, and fisheries: A surface-dwelling, nearshore species that under-takes long-distance migrations in large schools traveling along the shore. Their food consists mainly of small fishes, shrimps, and squids. Spanish mackerel can attain 8 years of age. Of recreational and commercial importance throughout range.

Distribution: Found along Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of North America, north commonly as far as Chesapeake Bay. Spanish mackerel are summer visitors along the Atlantic coast of the United States north to New York; less regularly along the southern coasts of New England, although a few are taken during most summers at Woods hole.