Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Last reviewed:September 2015
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- Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus)
- Atlantic chub mackerel (Scomber colias)
- Pacific chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus)
- King mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla)
- Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus)
- Bullet mackerel (Auxis rochei)
- Frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard)
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The common name for a number of perciform fishes in the family Scombridae, characterized by a long slender body, pointed head, and large mouth. The family Scombridae comprises mackerels and tunas. Mackerels have a fusiform and moderately compressed body, as well as certain other characteristics that adapt them for sustained high swimming speeds: the spinous dorsal fin is depressible in a groove in the back; the pectoral and pelvic fins are small and retractable in shallow depressions in the body; individuals possess minute cycloid scales, although they are partly absent in some species (in this case, the scales surround the anterior part of the body and are referred to as the corselet); the eyes are even with the surface of the head; the mouthparts fit snuggly against the head; and the gill covers fit snuggly against the body. These features eliminate almost all irregularities that would cause resistance to the water. The slender caudal peduncle, supported on each side by two keels or a third median keel (depending on the species), and the lunate caudal fin provide a powerful forward thrust. Mackerels are also recognized by finlets (independent multibranched rays, each appearing as a small fin) behind the dorsal and anal fins. See also: Adaptation (biology); Perciformes; Tuna
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