Mackerel Facts

Mackerel Facts
Mackerel is a marine fish that belongs to the family Scombridae which includes more than 30 different species of fish (such as tuna and bonito). Mackerel lives in Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It can be found in deep waters during the fall and winter and close to the shore, during the spring. Mackerels are important part of human diet. High demand for mackerels during the 1980’s led to drastic decline in the number of remaining fish in the ocean. Size of the catch and fishing locations for both commercial and recreational fishing were regulated by law until the 2001, when population of mackerels returned to its original size.
Interesting Mackerel Facts:
Mackerels can reach 12 to 22 inches in length and 4 to 10 pounds of weight.
Mackerel has slender body that is cylindrical in shape. It has two widely separated dorsal fins and numerous finlets (small fins) on a dorsal and lateral side of the body. Tail is shaped like fork.
Mackerels are bluish green on a dorsal side of the body and silver on the bottom side. Upper part of the body is covered with 20 to 30 dark wavy stripes.
Dark wavy stripes on the upper part of the body are used as “schooling mark”. By looking at the vertical lines on the neighboring fish, each fish in the group can align itself with the rest of the school and adjust its swimming speed.
Mackerels have miniature scales which can be visualized only after close examination.
Mackerels are carnivores (meat-eaters). Their diet consists of copepods, small fish, shrimps and squids.
Mackerels are diurnal animals (active during the day).
Mackerels swim in large schools that can stretch up to 20 miles in length.
Mackerels are fast and agile swimmers. They can swim at the speed of 5.5 meters per second.
Mackerels have numerous natural enemies. Tunas, whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks, tortoises and pelicans often consume mackerels.
Mackerels are oily fish. They represent important source of omega-3 fatty acids in human diet.
Mackerels migrate toward the shallow water (close to the shore) during the spring, when mating season starts.
Just like many other sea creatures, mackerels have external fertilization. Females release 200 000 to 400 000 eggs in the water, where they will merge with sperm cells released by males.
Eggs float in the water because they contain oily drops. Incubation time lasts 4 to 6 days. Small percent of eggs will hatch since they are on a menu of various sea creatures. Larvae are miniature at birth. They feed on remaining yolk in the first few days of their life. In the later stages of life, larvae eat zooplankton. At the length of 2 inches, larvae look like miniature mackerels.
Mackerels have long lifespan. They can survive up to 25 years in the wild.

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