King Mackerel

    ALSO KNOWN AS:
    Cavalla, Cero, Sierra

    U.S. fishermen harvest several species of mackerel. King mackerel are one of the most
    commonly caught species off the southeast coast, especially Florida. King mackerel is a large,
    aggressive fish with a rich flavor, making it popular among both commercial and recreational
    fishermen.

    LOCATION & HABITAT
    King mackerel are found in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the
    Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They are a "coastal pelagic" species, meaning they live in the
    open waters near the coast. They live in water 115 to almost 600 feet deep. King mackerel prefer
    warm waters, and seldom enter waters below 68 degrees Fahreneheit. They migrate with
    seasonal changes in water temperature and with changes in food availability. Swimming in large
    schools, they migrate to the northern part of their range in the summer and to the southern part in
    the winter.

    BIOLOGY
    King mackerel grow fast, up to 5½ feet and 100 pounds, and can live more than 20 years. They're
    able to reproduce when they reach 2 years of age. King mackerel spawn on the outer continental
    shelf from May through October. Females release eggs in the open water, where they are
    fertilized. Females can have 50,000 to several million eggs.

    King mackerels are carnivores, feeding in the middle of the food chain on fish, squid, and
    shrimp. They're voracious feeders and have been observed leaping out of the water in pursuit of
    prey. Juvenile and larger pelagic fish feed on smaller king mackerel. Bottlenose dolphin and
    large fish such as sharks and tuna feed on adult king mackerel.

    PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
    King mackerel are iron-gray on the back and silvery on their sides and belly. They have pale to
    dusky fins. Small king mackerel sometimes have spots like Spanish mackerel, but can be
    distinguished by their sharply dipping lateral line and gray anterior dorsal fin.

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