Scomberomorus cavalla

Common Name

King Mackerel

Year Described

Cuvier, 1829


Dorsal Fin: XII-XVIII, 15-18, followed by 7-10 finlets
Anal Fin: 16-20, followed by 7-10 finlets
Pectoral Fin: 21-23
Gill Rakers: 0-2 (upper limb), 5-9 (lower limb); 6-11 total
Vertebrae: 41-43

Body elongate and very compressed. Snout about twice eye diameter. Adipose eyelid absent. Jaw extends beyond rear margin of orbit. Teeth strong and compressed. Two short interpelvic processes. Dorsal fins almost touching. Spiny dorsal fin long with a slightly concave edge and raised anterior lobe. Second dorsal and anal fin with tall anterior lobes. Pectoral fin short. Caudal fin strongly forked. Corselet not well developed. Body covered in small scales. Scales only on base of pectoral fin. Lateral line with a abrupt downward curve under second dorsal fin. Two small caudal keels with a larger median keel in between them.


Body silvery with a slate blue back. Often has a blue or greenish sheen to the dorsum. Adults with no markings on the flanks. Young fish with bronze spots on the flanks like the Spanish Mackerels. Upper fins and tail dusky. Lower fins pale.


Maximum size to 150cm FL. Common to 70cm FL.


Pelagic in offshore waters over the continetal shelf, including reef edges and dropoffs. In small schools or solitary.


Massachusetts to S. Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern Caribbean Sea.


Collette, B.B. 2002. Scombridae (pp 1836-1857). In: Carpenter. 2002. The living marine resources of the Western Central Atlantic. Vol. 3: Bony fishes part 2 (Opistognathidae to Molidae), sea turtles and sea mammals. FAO Species Identification Guides for Fisheries Purposes. American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Special Publication No. 5.

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2011.FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.

McEachran, J.D. and J.D. Fechhelm. 2005. Fishes of the Gulf of Mexico. Volume 2: Scorpaeniformes to Tetraodontiformes. University of Texas Press, Austin. i-viii +1-1004.