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common name for members of the family Scombridae, open-sea fishes including the albacore, bonito, and tunatuna
or tunny,
game and food fishes, the largest members of the family Scombridae (mackerel family) and closely related to the albacore and bonito. They have streamlined bodies with two fins, and five or more finlets on the back.
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. They are characterized by deeply forked tails that narrow greatly where they join the body; small finlets behind both the dorsal and the anal fins; and sleek, streamlined bodies with smooth, almost scaleless skins having an iridescent sheen. All members of the mackerel family are superb, swift swimmers. The firm, oily texture of their powerful muscles and their generally large size make them of great commercial importance as food fish. They travel in schools, feeding on other fish (chiefly herringherring,
common name for members of the large, widely distributed family Clupeidae, comprising many species of marine and freshwater food fishes, including the sardine (Sardinia), the menhaden (Brevoortia and Ethmidium), and the shad (Alosa).
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) and on squid, and migrate between deep and shallow waters. The smaller species rely on the constant rush of water through their gills for sufficient oxygen and will suffocate if motionless. The largest of the family, the enormous (up to 3-4 ton/680 kg) tunas, are among the few warm-blooded fishes, due to the constant operation of their huge banks of muscles. Of the smaller members of the family, the Atlantic, or common, mackerel, Scomber scombrus, found in colder waters off North America and Europe, is one of the smallest (1 1-2 lb/0.675 kg average). Despite its size, the annual catch is 1 million tons, which is marketed fresh, salted, and canned. Intermediate between the Atlantic mackerel and the bonitos (see tunatuna
or tunny,
game and food fishes, the largest members of the family Scombridae (mackerel family) and closely related to the albacore and bonito. They have streamlined bodies with two fins, and five or more finlets on the back.
..... Click the link for more information.
) are the frigate mackerels, or frigate tunas, found in warm seas. Spotted species found off the Florida and Gulf coasts include the Spanish, painted (or cero), and Serra mackerels, averaging 10 to 15 lb (4.5–6.7 kg). Other species are the king mackerel, also called kingfish (up to 60 lb/27 kg); the chub mackerel, similar to the Atlantic mackerel; and the cosmopolitan and more solitary wahoo, or peto. The snake mackerels, including the escolars and oilfish (some species of which are sometimes marketed as white tuna or codfish), belong to the family Gempylidae. Mackerels and snake mackerels are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Actinopterygii, order Perciformes, families Scombridae and Gempylidae, respectively.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Scomber scombrus), also Atlantic mackerel, a fish of the family Scombridae of the order Perciformes. The body, which is spindle-shaped and covered with small scales, is about 60 cm long and weighs about 1.6 kg. The color above is bluish green with several black curved stripes.

The mackerel is found along the European coast from the Barents and White seas to the Canary Islands. It is also present in the Baltic (up to the Gulf of Finland), North, Mediterranean, and Black seas, as well as in the Sea of Marmara. Along the eastern coast of North America the fish is found from Labrador to the Carolinas. A thermophile pelagic schooling fish, the mackerel winters at depths of 150–250 m. In the spring it migrates to the coasts for reproduction. After spawning, which occurs in the summer at shallow depths, the fish migrates along the coast in search of food. Sexual maturity is reached in the second to fourth year. Fecundity is about 500,000 roe. The mackerel is a commercially valuable fish.

Related species are the chub mackerel (S. japonicus) and the slimy mackerel (S. australasicus). The chub mackerel is commonly found off the western and eastern coasts of the Pacific (including the Sea of Japan), off southern Africa, and off the western and eastern coasts of the Atlantic (including the Mediterranean and Black seas). The slimy mackerel occurs off South Australia and New Zealand.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for perciform fishes composing the subfamily Scombroidei of the family Scombridae, characterized by a long slender body, pointed head, and large mouth.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. a spiny-finned food fish, Scomber scombrus, occurring in northern coastal regions of the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean: family Scombridae. It has a deeply forked tail and a greenish-blue body marked with wavy dark bands on the back
2. any of various other fishes of the family Scombridae, such as Scomber colias (Spanish mackerel) and S. japonicus (Pacific mackerel)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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