Latin name

Scomber scombrus

Other names

Mackerel, common mackerel, Boston mackerel; Arabic: scomber; Danish: almindelige, makrel; Dutch: gewone makrel; French: maquereau; German: makrele; Italian: lacerta, macarello; Japanese: hirasaba, marusaba; Norwegian: makrell; Portuguese: cavalla; Spanish: caballa; Swedish: makrill; Turkish: uskumru.


The body is fusiform, slightly compressed from the sides. The scales are fine, cycloidal. The length of the head is about a quarter of the body length. The distance between the end of the first dorsal fin and the beginning of the second dorsal fin is greater than the length of the base of the first dorsal fin. The slender caudal peduncle has two small keels between the caudal lobes on each side. The anal and second dorsal fins start at about the same vertical line. A clearly visible barb of the anal fin is connected to it by a webbing. No swim bladder. Atlantic mackerel has a smooth, tapered head, streamlined body and bright coloration. Iridescent greenish-blue color covers most of the body, turning into a blue-black on the head and silvery-white on the belly. The skin is satiny, with fine smooth scales. The tail is forked. A distinctive feature is the row of 23-33 wavy dark bands on the upper part of the body. The back has two fins, one barbed and one soft, as well as a series of small fins. There are also fins on the lower surface of the body near the tail.


Found in the North Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic mackerel are distributed from Labrador to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in the eastern region; and from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean and Black Seas in the western Atlantic. Occurs in the northeast Atlantic off the coast of Europe, from the Canary Islands to Iceland, and in the Mediterranean, Marmara, Black, Baltic, North, and Norwegian Seas. In Africa shores, it is marked to the north of Cape Gere.


Atlantic mackerel is pelagic, preferring cool, well-oxygenated waters of the open ocean. Neritic species, occurs at water temperatures of 8-20 °C from the surface to depths of 200-250 m. Usually, flocks are formed by individuals of similar size.


The average size of adults is 14-18 inches and 1 to 2 pounds. The world record for all tackle is the Norwegian fish, weighing 2 pounds 10 ounces. Becomes sexually mature in different areas of the range in the 2nd-4th year of life. In the Northwest Atlantic, female Atlantic mackerel become sexually mature at about 34 cm in length, and males at about 32 cm in length. In the Northeast Atlantic, sexual maturity occurs at a length of about 30 cm. In the Black Sea, it does not exceed 30-32 cm in length and has a maximum mass of 265 g. In the Atlantic Ocean, it is 50-60 cm long and 1.6 kg in weight. The age limit is 16 years, and according to some data, 20 years.

Life history and Behavior

Atlantic mackerel, found in the western Atlantic Ocean, consist of two populations. The southern population appears offshore in early April, advances toward Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, and then spawns off New Jersey and Long Island. In late May, the northern group briefly enters southern New England waters and mixes with the southern group before moving north to spawn off Nova Scotia in St. Lawrence Bay in June and July. Atlantic mackerel are moderately fecund. Eggs are released wherever the fish happen to be, causing unfavorable winds to drive the eggs or fry to places where their chances of survival are slim. This behavior, combined with the predation of large as well as young mackerel, results in a curious pattern of either abundance or scarcity.

Food and feeding habits

Zooplankton forms the basis of the diet. The diet consists of fish eggs and a variety of small fish and fry. In the Black Sea, it feeds on planktonic crustaceans and small hams. In winter, the feeding activity decreases.


In the Northeast Atlantic, spawning is extended from May to June south of the coast of England and in the North Sea, from June to July in the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits, from March to April in the Mediterranean Sea, and from January to May in the Sea of Marmara. In the Northwest Atlantic, spawning begins in mid-April at the latitude of Cape Hatteras, continues in May off New Jersey, in June off the southern coast of Massachusetts, and ends in late June or early July off the coast of Nova Scotia and along the southern coast of St. Lawrence Bay. Spawning occurs at surface water temperatures of about 9-18 °C. At this time, mackerel are distributed in the water column. Fertility averages 350-400 thousand eggs. Spawning occurs in batches, the eggs are pelagic, with a small fat drop. The eggs are 1.0-1.4 mm in diameter. Caviar incubation lasts about 3 days. After 4-8 weeks, the larvae are about 50 mm long and take adult form. It becomes sexually mature in different areas of its range in the 2nd-4th year of life. In the Northwest Atlantic, female Atlantic mackerel becomes sexually mature at a length of about 34 cm, and males at a length of about 32 cm. In the Northeast Atlantic, sexual maturity occurs at a length of about 30 cm. In the Black Sea, its length does not exceed 30-32 cm, the maximum mass of 265 g. In the Atlantic Ocean, the length is 50-60 cm, weight 1.6 kg. The age limit is 16 years, and according to some data, 20 years.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Scombriformes
Family Scombridae
Genus Scomber
Species S. scombrus
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 18
Maximum body weight, kg 3.4
Maximum length, cm 60
Sailing speed, m/s 21.4
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Mackerel, Atlantic

Tags: Mackerel, Atlantic