Scomber Scombrus, commonly known as the Atlantic Mackerel, is a type of mackerel that inhabits the moderate Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, where it is exceedingly abundant and often encountered in numerous shoals.

Since they migrate, they are known by other names, such as Scottish mackerel, Boston mackerel, and Norwegian mackerel, referencing their location, yet it’s the same species. One million tons of Atlantic mackerel are captured annually worldwide as it is a highly commercial species that is valued for its flesh.


The Atlantic Mackerel has a protracted, peaked head and a steel-blue body that is patterned with irregular black lines on the top side. It has two prickly dorsal fins located far from each other, two pectoral fins, plus tiny tails and anal fins that are likewise widely separated. 

Atlantic Mackerel capture their prey and attack their prey in huge packs
Atlantic Mackerel capture their prey and attack their prey in huge packs

The fish has a long tail fin that is attached to a body that narrows down toward the tip. The average size of a mature Atlantic Mackerel is about a foot, but larger specimens have been obtained, reaching a length of 2 ft and a maximum weight reported at 7.5 lbs.


The Atlantic Mackerel is a predatory species that feed in a manner akin to that of tuna. Their dimensions and the type of what they eat alter over the course of the year. Upon capturing their prey, they attack in huge packs. This preying method serves as a protective tactic in addition to enabling them to cooperate and capture prey with a higher chance of success.

Shrimp, eels, and tiny or younger fish make up the food source of the Atlantic Mackerel. Additionally, they gather together to pursue these kinds of creatures in shoals, that can reach thousands in bulk. Most notably, when cornered, the prey will swim frantically, causing the water to appear to be sizzling as seen from the surface.


The aggressive, swift-moving Atlantic mackerel needs to maintain continuous mobility in order to gain adequate oxygen in order for its survival. It moves by making quick motions with the caudal fin and the back of its lower body. Atlantic mackerel don’t jump above the water’s surface like most mackerel can unless they’re trying to avoid an attacker. The Atlantic mackerel can be found in the epipelagic zone at depths of 500-660 ft. 

It appears throughout the coastline in springtime and leaves when the winter months approach, spending the summertime near the coastline as well as on the surface of the sea. It migrates southward into greater depths between the fall season and wintertime in search of a warmer climate. 


Around 2-3 years old, Atlantic mackerel attain their sexual maturation which is relatively early in life. Age is less of a factor in a female fish’s capacity to spawn than mass. Over 90% of females are able to procreate at 15 inches in height, while roughly 50% are able to do so at 13 inches. Because the Atlantic Mackerel are oviparous, its eggs develop and birth outside of their bodies.

Despite the fact that they have been seen breeding as far as 80 miles off the coast, mackerel typically breed and lay their eggs approximately 30 miles close to the land. The larval stage is where the hatchlings spend approximately thirty days. During this time, they are unable to swim and must consequently drift alongside the stream.


The greatest risks to Atlantic mackerel are people and the industry of fishing due to the fact that they are so widely consumed. There are, however, a number of additional dangers to take into account. They are an always-on source of food for predators such as sharks, seals, tuna, whales, and dolphins. Marine birds frequently hunt them when they swim nearer the surface during the warmer months.

Although not an endangered species, the greatest threat to Atlantic Mackerel is overfishing
Although not an endangered species, the greatest threat to Atlantic Mackerel is overfishing

Because Atlantic Mackerel are migratory fish, their lives are changing as the global temperature rises. Along with the general adverse environmental impacts caused by industrial fishing, these mackerel have begun to shift farther north as the ocean gets warmer.

Facts about the Atlantic Mackerel

  1. In a given year, only one female Atlantic mackerel can produce up to 450,000 eggs.
  2. Although they can live up to 20 years, Atlantic mackerel typically live for about 17 years.
  3. The upper part of an Atlantic mackerel is divided into 20-30 curving black bands.
  4. Atlantic Mackerel group hunting can be detected on the sizzling bubbles on the surface.
  5. Atlantic Mackerel swim at a top speed of 7.5 mph.


Is Atlantic Mackerel the same as King Mackerel?

Compared to Spanish or king mackerels, the distribution of the Atlantic mackerel is significantly more constrained. The majority of these fish are located in the northeast Atlantic Ocean on all other sides. They can be found in North America, from southern Canada to North Carolina.

How fast can an Atlantic ​Mackerel swim?

In British waters, the Atlantic Mackerel is recognized as the fish with the fastest swim speed. It can pick up speed thanks to characteristics like a branching tail and the capacity to fold its fins for better hydrodynamics reaching speeds of 7-8 mph. Since it lacks a swim bladder, it must constantly swim to stay afloat and live.

Do Atlantic ​Mackerels communicate with each other?

When interacting with one another, Atlantic Mackerels frequently employ the auditory perception channel. The noises are intended to signal the presence of any potential predators, prey, or potential partners. When foraging, they will create crunching noises that may alert neighboring specimens to the presence of food.

What is the Atlantic ​Mackerel conservation status?

This animal has been designated as the Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Unfortunately, overfishing by the fishing industry is causing its numbers to decline. The fact that fisheries can easily capture Atlantic Mackerel may well have led to its overfishing.

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