- Although the flesh of the almaco jack is considered quality table fare, the species has been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a seldom fatal stomach irritation.
- The almaco jack is susceptible to tapeworm parasites in the caudal peduncle area, but the meat can be eaten safely if affected portions are cut away.
Lesser amberjack (Seriola)
The lesser amberjack looks much like small specimens of the greater amberjack, yet they are much less common and are caught infrequently. The body is short, somewhat wide and evenly tapered from the middle to each end. Above the lateral line they are olive green, brownish, dark pinkish or violet, and below the lateral line they are white or silver-gray. A light goldish line extends from the eye toward the tail, and a dark stripe extends diagonally from the eye almost to the first dorsal fin. Juveniles have seven to eight brownish, irregular and sometimes broken bands on the sides.
The rounded first dorsal fin has eight spines. The larger second dorsal fin, which is not connected to the first, has one spine and 30 to 32 rays. The anal fin has three spines and 19 to 20 rays. The second dorsal fin and smaller anal fin have similar shapes, with the front ends extending to a peak. The tail is forked in a shape like a boomerang.
Lesser amberjack can be distinguished from greater amberjack in a number of ways. In the lesser, the stripe extending from the eye doesn't reach the dorsal fin; in the greater, it does. The eyes of the lesser are proportionally larger than that of the greater, and the body is slightly deeper. And last, the lesser amberjack has gill rakers extending all the way to the attachment point of the gill arch, whereas in the greater amberjack, the gill rakers do not go all the way. The lesser amberjack has also been confused with the Guinean amberjack, but the lesser has a proportionally bigger eye, and the end of its upper jaw is proportionally more slender.
Adult specimens of the banded rudderfish are unbarred and look much like the lesser amberjack. However, the former have a more elongate body and have 33 to 40 dorsal fin rays, compared to the lesser amberjacks 30 to 32.
Lesser amberjack are carnivores that eat small fish and squid in open waters or near the sea floor. They pursue rather than ambush their prey.
Lesser amberjack are found in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Caribbean and the northeast and southwest Gulf of Mexico. In the eastern Atlantic they live off Madeira and the Canary Islands. In the Mediterranean they are rare; they have been found in the in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea off of Sicily, in the Strait of Sicily off the island of Lampedusa and in the Gulf of Lion south of France.
Adult lesser amberjack live in coastal waters at depths of 180 to 430 feet, and can be found either in the open water or at the sea floor. Juveniles reside far offshore in surface waters among weed lines and floating debris. They prefer warm waters with an average temperature of 63 F.
- The table quality of lesser amberjack is considered fair to good. They have been associated with ciguatera poisoning, a common toxin that originates in certain algae that colonize coral reefs. It moves up the food chain until it has accumulated in high concentration in the flesh of carnivorous fishes.