Latin name

Scomberomorus cavalla

Other names

Kingfish, giant mackerel; French: maquereau; Portuguese: cavala; Spanish: carite, carite lucio, carite sierra, rey, serrucho, sierra.


The body is torpedo-shaped, compressed from the sides. The lower jaw is slightly protruded forward relative to the upper jaw. The dorsal fins are two. The second dorsal fin is approximately equal in size to the anal fin. There are small additional dorsal and anal fins. The lateral line runs along the upper part of the back to the beginning of the second dorsal fin, then makes a gentle curve downwards and the caudal peduncle follows slightly below the longitudinal axis of the body. At the base of the caudal peduncle are keels. Swim bladder is absent. The streamlined body of the king mackerel is dark gray above, silvery on the sides and below, with no markings, and the back may have an iridescent blue or olive hue. Most fins are pale or dusky, except for the first dorsal fin, which is uniformly blue. The front part of this fin is never black, which distinguishes it from Spanish and zero mackerel. Other distinguishing features include a sharp reduction in the lateral line below the second dorsal fin, as well as relatively few (14 to 16) spines on the first dorsal fin and fewer gill rakes, which are 6 to 11 on the first arch. Young king mackerel can be confused with Spanish mackerel because of the small, round, dark or golden spots on the sides, but these fade and disappear with age.


In the western Atlantic, the king mackerel is found from Massachusetts to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, although it is only truly abundant off southern Florida. Two separate populations are thought to exist, one in the Gulf of Mexico and one in the Atlantic.


Epipelagic neritic species. The king mackerel is a predominantly migratory, open-water species that prefers warm waters that rarely drop below 68 °F. They are often found around wrecks, buoys, coral reefs, ocean jetties, bays, and other places where food is plentiful. They tend to avoid turbid waters, and larvae are sometimes found in warm, highly salty surface waters. As a schooling species, king mackerel migrate annually along the western Atlantic coast in schools of varying sizes, although the largest individuals are usually kept singly.


King mackerel average less than 10 pounds, are usually 2 to 4 feet long and weigh up to 20 pounds. The maximum length reaches 51⁄2 feet and weighs 100 pounds. Females grow larger than males. The world record in tackle is considered to be a 93-pound fish caught off the coast of Puerto Rico in 1999. This species is thought to be as old as 14 years, but individuals older than 7 years are rare.

Life history and Behavior

Male king mackerel become sexually mature between the second and third years of life, and females between the third and fourth years. They spawn from April through November, with peak activity in late summer and early fall. A large female can hatch from 1 to 2.5 million eggs.

Food and feeding habits

The food spectrum of the king mackerel includes mostly fish, and in smaller quantities, shrimp, squid.


In the Gulf of Mexico, it spawns from May to September at depths of 35-180 m. In the Caribbean Sea - in July-August. Off the coast of Brazil, spawning is recorded throughout the year. Off the coast of Brazil, the fecundity of fish with a length of 63-123 cm ranges from 345 to, 2280 thousand eggs. Larval development occurs in surface waters at temperatures of 26.3-31.0 °C and salinities of 26.9-35.0%. The maximum known length (5G) of king mackerel is 173 cm, weight 45 kg.

Phylum Chordata
Class Actinopterygii
Squad Scombriformes
Family Scombridae
Genus Scomberomorus
Species S. cavalla
Conservation status Least Concern
Habitat Pelagic
Life span, years 9
Maximum body weight, kg 45
Maximum length, cm 184
Sailing speed, m/s No information
Threat to people Edible
Way of eating Predator

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Mackerel, King

Tags: Mackerel, King