Fun Mackerel Facts For Kids

Christian Mba
Jan 12, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Mackerel facts tell us that they have a cylinder-shaped body and small size.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.1 Min

Mackerels are fishes from the North Atlantic which form a rich source of food for both animals and humans. They belong to the Scombridae family and are found in a wide range of seas.

These small fishes are pelagic in nature and stay close to the surface. They hardly venture below 1968 ft (600 m) from the surface.

The most common species from this family is the Atlantic mackerel, or Scomber scombrus, which has large dorsal fins. Most mackerels are similar in appearance with a cylindrical body, pointed snout, and small eyes.

The natural enemies of these fishes include sea lions, sharks, tunas, pelicans, and tortoises. These fishes are migratory in nature and move towards the shallow waters as the breeding season approaches.

Due to their rich nutritional value, these fishes were caught in large numbers a few decades back which led to a decline in their population. In order to keep their population in check, this fish has been granted a limited allowance to recreational and commercial fisheries which states how many mackerel can be caught.

You may also check out the fact files on chub mackerel and Indian mackerel from Kidadl.

Mackerel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a mackerel?

Mackerels are species of fish that are found in the northern parts of the Atlantic Ocean.

What class of animal does a mackerel belong to?

Mackerels belong to the family Scombridae under the class of Actinopterygii.

How many mackerels are there in the world?

Mackerel is a fish species which neither stays close to the surface nor ventures in very deep waters. The population of this fish species in the North Atlantic Ocean has recently increased to 57 million. The population of Scomber scombrus or Atlantic mackerel is the largest among this.

Where does a mackerel live?

Mackerels are pelagic fish species and they are commonly found in tropical and temperate waters. They are found living along the coast in the oceans and these fishes are migratory in nature.

They are found near the surface while in migration. They stay near the surface mostly in the days, but at night they move into deeper waters.

Atlantic mackerel prefers to spend the warmer months near the shore, but soon as the winter months start to settle in, they move to deeper waters. They move more towards the south from the north to stay in warmer waters.

What is a mackerel's habitat?

Mackerels are mostly found to be living close to the coast. They prefer habitats along the coast as they are pelagic fish species.

They are largely distributed along the coast of the North American continent. The North Atlantic Ocean is the most common breeding ground for these fishes, but each of the fish species has its own specific range. For example, blue mackerel are found in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Atlantic mackerel is one particular species of this family that is very common in the Atlantic Ocean, especially to the north. King Mackerel, on the other hand, is a species that thrives in the Gulf of Mexico.

Who do mackerels live with?

Mackerels is a fish species that are found to be living in large schools along a coast. They are quite a social fish species and have active lives.

They hunt for food in these large groups and move through the waters very swiftly. These large schools are formed on the basis of fish size. Bigger fishes stay in separate groups than smaller ones.

How long does a mackerel live?

A mackerel is a fish found in the northern parts of the Atlantic Ocean. These fishes are known to survive long in the wild, living up to 25 years. An Atlantic mackerel is known to survive for at least 17 years in the ocean.

How do they reproduce?

All species of mackerels are oviparous. They are found to be migrating in their large groups to a suitable breeding or spawning ground. This movement takes place along the coast as these mackerel species do not spawn in deep waters.

They have a preference for spawning in shallow waters as eggs laid by the females tend to float. At one time, the females can lay a large number of eggs.

This number varies between 300,000-1,500,000 but also varies according to the species. A female Atlantic mackerel can lay around 450,000 eggs in a single spawning season. Their season of spawning is spread across the spring through the summer months and can occur both day and night.

What is their conservation status?

The mackerel is a fish that is found mostly near the surface of the water, making them easy to catch by fishermen. Although these fishes are largely hunted for their rich taste and high protein value, most mackerels are tagged as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.

The blue mackerel, the Atlantic mackerel, and even the king mackerel are all tagged as Least Concern. These fish species are found in abundance throughout the North Atlantic Ocean, although they are now impacted by climate changes.

To date, there is only one type of mackerel that is considered to be somewhat threatened. Among the tribe of Spanish mackerels, the Monterey Spanish mackerel is considered to be Vulnerable.

Mackerel Fun Facts

What do mackerels look like?

Most of the mackerel species of fish have long vertical stripes which run on their backs. They also have tails that are deeply forked.

Most of these fishes have a small cylinder-shaped body. They have numerous dorsal fins, along with strong anal fins that help them in a swift movement. Most of these fish species have large eyes with eyelids.

The Atlantic mackerel is distinguishable on the basis of its iridescent blue-green upper body and silvery underparts. They have two dorsal fins, a large tail fin, and also a long pointed snout.

These large dorsal fins are spaced wide apart from each other. They also have a small caudal fin. These fishes are also gifted with small conical teeth which are very sharp and helps them to catch their prey.

The Mackerel Fish

How cute are they?

Mackerel fish species might not be very cute to look at.

How do they communicate?

Mackerels, which belong to the fish family, have means of communication similar to other species of fish. They send signals to their group members by motion or through electrical pulses. They also make high-frequency sounds which are only audible to their own.

How big is a mackerel?

Mackerels are usually small fishes, the size of which varies from 14-18 in (35.6 cm-45.7 cm). They can also grow to large sizes of about 23.6 in (60 cm) too. They are almost twice the size of adult shrimp.

How fast can a mackerel swim?

Mackerels can swim at a speed of 12.4 mph (20 kph).

How much does a mackerel weigh?

The weight of mackerels ranges from 0.9-4.4 lb (0.4-2 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for the males and females of this fish species.

What would you call a baby mackerel?

The babies of mackerels are known as tinkers.

What do they eat?

The primary food of a mackerel is small fish and shrimp. These fishes also feed on squids. These are carnivorous species of fish which can easily catch their prey with their razor-sharp teeth. Atlantic mackerels are known to form large groups to hunt for their prey. However, while feeding, these groups can break down into smaller shoals.

Are they eaten by humans?

Yes, mackerel forms an important food for humans. There are many fisheries that operate to catch mackerels specifically for human consumption. Every year, at least 1 million Atlantic mackerel are caught for food purposes.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they will not be good pets for a family. Fisheries solely catch these fishes for food purposes. They can be bought at markets or online.

Did you know...

An interesting fact about mackerels is that some species are caught to be used as fish bait. The blue mackerel is the most popular bait for other fish species like tuna. These fishes prefer to stay much closer to the surface which makes them easy to catch.

Another interesting and fun fact about mackerels is that they have very miniature scales. These scales can only be visualized with close examination.

These are diurnal animals which remain active throughout the day. Much like other fishes, mackerels also have external fertilization.

Although they are predators themselves, mackerels are easy prey themselves. They are a very common food source for sharks, tunas, pelicans, and sea lions.

What are the different types of mackerel?

To date, there are at least 30 variants of mackerels. Most of these fishes belong to the family Scombridae.

Within this family, there are different tribes such as  Scombrini, considered to be true mackerels and  Scomberomorini also called Spanish mackerels. From the mackerel Scomber genus, the most common ones are Atlantic mackerel (Mackerel scomber scombrus), blue mackerel (Scomber australasicus), and chub mackerel (Scomber japonicas).

Most of these fishes are commonly found in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. These fishes prefer to be close to the coast. Blue mackerels are mostly seen in the Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, and around the Persian Gulf. The Gulf of Mexico is the most common breeding ground of the King mackerel.

How do you eat mackerel?

From the mackerel Scomber genus, most species are a staple food for humans. There are numerous fisheries that are engaged in catching this fish. This fish is popular worldwide for being a delicious food.

It is an oily type of fish and rich in fatty acids which helps in improving endurance. Fresh mackerel is very tasty to eat when deep-fried in oil or simply grilled. Grilled mackerel with a touch of lime mojo is probably one of the tastiest dishes.

This fish tastes much like regular tuna and has a sweet taste to it. Fresh mackerel is somewhat similar to salmon in taste. It is not much of a salty fish and comes with a sufficient amount of bones. It is not the same as sardines.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these king salmon facts and carp facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Mackerel coloring pages.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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