The Spanish mackerel, also occasionally referred to as the Atlantic Spanish mackerel, is a type of fish. It is usually green and silver in color with yellowish spots on the belly. Most of these fish do not exceed three pounds (1.36 kg) in weight and may grow to be as long as three feet (90 cm). The scientific name for the Spanish mackerel is Scomberomorus maculatus. The Greek word maculatus is a reference to the spots on the body of the fish.
Geographical distribution of the Spanish mackerel generally ranges from the waters of North America down to the Caribbean. The population of these mackerels is most abundant around Florida, off the coast in both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. They usually prefer tropical or subtropical waters and are not commonly found in areas where the water temperature gets below 68°F (20°C). Mackerels may sometimes venture as far north as Nova Scotia, but typically migrate south before winter begins.
Spanish mackerels usually travel in large schools, and prefer staying near the top of the water. They are closely related to tuna fish and are typically very fast and powerful swimmers. Male and female Spanish mackerels reach sexual maturity by the second year of life. Spawning most likely takes place between the months of April and October, depending on geographic location. In warm waters, eggs may hatch roughly 25 hours after they are laid.
Smaller fish, such as herrings and sardines, are part of the average Spanish mackerel diet. Larger fish, such as sharks and bottlenose dolphins, prey upon the Spanish mackerel. During the 1980s, the Spanish Mackerel population was dwindling due to overfishing. As a result, quotas were put in place to help increase their numbers. Fishing for mackerels is commonly done using gill nets, although hook-and-line, trap nets, and beach seines may also be used.
Many people consider the Spanish mackerel to be one of the best tasting types of mackerels due to the rich flavor and firm flesh. The taste could be compared to that of a mullet or swordfish. These mackerels are also a good source of Omega-3 acids. This type of fish may contain elevated levels of mercury, and it is not typically recommended for adults to eat it more than twice per month. Children under 12 years old are usually advised not to have more than one serving per month.