Mackerel is a common name applied
to a number of different species of pelagic fish,
mostly, but not exclusively, from the family Scombridae.
They are found in both temperate and tropical seas,
mostly living along the coast or offshore in the
Mackerel typically have vertical stripes on their
backs and deeply forked tails. Many species are
restricted in their distribution ranges, and live
in separate populations or fish stocks based on
geography. Some stocks migrate in large schools
along the coast to suitable spawning grounds, where
they spawn in fairly shallow waters. After spawning
they return the way they came, in smaller schools,
to suitable feeding grounds often near an area of
upwelling. From there they may move offshore into
deeper waters and spend the winter in relative inactivity.
Other stocks migrate across oceans.
Smaller mackerel are forage fish for larger predators,
including larger mackerel. Flocks of seabirds, as
well as whales, dolphins, sharks and schools of
larger fish such as tuna and marlin follow mackerel
schools and attack them in sophisticated and cooperative
ways. Mackerel is high in omega-3 oils and is intensively
harvested by humans. In 2009, over five millions
tonnes were landed by commercial fishermen. Sport
fisherman value the fighting abilities of the king
Over thirty different species, principally belonging
to the family Scombridae, are commonly referred
to as mackerel. The term mackerel derives from the
Old French maquerel, c.1300, meaning a pimp or procurer.
The connection is not altogether clear, but mackerel
spawn enthusiastically in shoals near the coast,
and medieval ideas on animal procreation were creative.