is a common name applied to a number of different species of fish
, mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae
. They occur in all tropical and temperate seas. Most live offshore in the oceanic environment but a few, like the Spanish mackerel
), enter bays and can be caught near bridges and piers. Common features of mackerels are a slim, cylindrical shape (as opposed to the tunas
which are deeper bodied) and numerous finlets
on the dorsal
sides behind the dorsal
and anal fins
. The scales are extremely small, if present. The largest species called "mackerel" is the king mackerel
) which can grow to 66 inches (1.68 m). A female mackerel lays about 500,000 eggs at a time.
Shearwater, tuna, dolphins, whales, orca, seagulls, marlins, sharks, and humans may hunt mackerels. Mackerels are prized (and are highly harvested) for their meat, which is often very oily. They are known for their fighting ability, and are an important recreational and commercial fishery. The meat can spoil quickly, especially in the tropics, causing scombroid food poisoning - it must be eaten on the day of capture, unless cured. For this reason, mackerel is the only common salt-cured sushi. Mackerel fishery is well established in India, the species caught is usually Rastrelliger kanagurta.
In the U.S. federal prison system, mackerel fillets are used as a standard currency among prisoners.
Species whose common name includes "mackerel"
Use as an adjective
"Mackerel" is also used as an adjective in the vernacular names of other animals or breeds thereof, often used to indicate types with a mackerel-like pattern of vertical stripes: