Spanish mackerel is an epipelagic neritic species that inhabits coastal waters of the
western Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Maine to Yucatan, Mexico. Depending on water
temperature, Spanish mackerel migrate seasonally along the coastline (Collette and
Nauen 1983). In the eastern gulf, these fish move northward during late winter and spring,
appearing off the central west coast of Florida about April 1 (Moe 1972, Sutherland and
Fable 1980). Movement continues westward and terminates along the northern gulf coast.
During fall, Spanish mackerel migrate back southward to the wintering grounds in south
Florida waters (Moe 1972, Sutherland and Fable 1980). Based on observed patterns of
movement and spawning, it appears that one Atlantic and one or more gulf groups of
Spanish mackerel occur in Florida waters. Spawning occurs from May through August.
Larval and early juvenile Spanish mackerel grow about 1.9 mm d-1 for their first 23 days.
Growth then increases to nearly 5 mm d-1 until about 40 days of age, when growth slows to
2.1 mm d-1 (Peters and Schmidt 1997). Ninety-five percent of females along the Atlantic
coast are mature by age-1 and 14.1” fork length (FL). All males are mature at age-1 and
13.3” FL (Schmidt et al. 1993).
Females can get older and grow to larger sizes than males. On the Atlantic coast, the
oldest females reach about age-11 and 29.1” FL, and the oldest males reach about age-6
and 18.3” FL (Table 1; Schmidt et al. 1993). In South Florida and the Gulf of Mexico,
maximum observed ages were 9 years (28.8” FL) for females and 7 years (26.4” FL) for
males (Fable et al. 1987).
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|Status and Trends 2007 Report
Florida’s Inshore and Nearshore Species
by Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
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