Family: SCOMBRIDAE (Tunas and Mackerels)
The frigate mackerel has a very slender body shape with two well-separated dorsal fins, short pectoral fins, and an anal fin followed by seven finlets. Its coloration is dark bluish above with a white belly. This species of mackerel grows to 58 cm. (23 in) and may reach 4.5 kg (10lb.) in weight.
Range and Habitat
Mackerels are pelagic schooling fish, and are found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. Mackerels, as well as tunas, may be observed along rocky shores and over patch reefs as well as in offshore waters. The black skipjack tuna, Euthynnus lineatus, form schools in coastal waters and near offshore reefs. It is very similar to a frigate mackerel, but with a less slender shape and a narrower space between the dorsal fins.
Mackerels are powerful swimmers. Large schools feed on anchovies and herrings. When the opportunity arises, they dash in to feast on recently released eggs of spawning fishes. The scombrids (tunas, mackerels, and bonitos) form the basis of valuable commercial fisheries in many regions. Over the past 10 years, world catches fluctuated between about 5 and 6 million tons per year.
Text by Patricia Beller
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