- 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.
Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus)
Spanish mackerel have elongated, slender bodies that allow them to be very fast swimmers. Coloration is bluish or olive on the back and silvery on the belly and the sides. There are also many bronze or yellow spots on the sides. The front part of the first dorsal fin is black. The lateral line gradually curves downward toward the tail fin. Spanish mackerel have two dorsal fins, the first with 16 to 18 spines and the second with 15 to 18 soft rays. Behind the second dorsal fin and the anal fin there are 8 to 9 finlets. The tail fin is thin and crescent shaped, much like a tunas. Spanish mackerel have small scales.
Spanish mackerel primarily feed on small fish such as threadfin herring, menhaden, mullet and anchovies. They hunt in schools, and can often be seen forcing the schooling baitfish into bundles and attacking from below. During these feeding frenzies the baitfish often jump out of the water, where predator birds such as tern prey upon them. Spanish mackerel also eat shrimp and squid.
There are two distinct populations of Spanish mackerel in the western Atlantic, one along the western Atlantic coast of the U.S. from Chesapeake Bay (and occasionally Cape Cod) to Miami, and the second exclusively in the Gulf of Mexico. They are not found in the Bahamas and some other parts of the Caribbean.
Spanish mackerel prefer warm waters, and are rarely found in water less than 68 F. They are a highly migratory species that forms big schools, so large that they can be (and often are) spotted from the air. Migrations are mainly for feeding purposes. Spanish mackerel can be found inshore, near shore and offshore. When inshore they are usually in shallow-water estuaries. Near shore they are often in the shallow waters over the continental shelf or over deep grass beds and reefs.
- Spanish mackerel are often confused with juveniles of their close relative, the king mackerel.
- The all-tackle world record is 13 pounds, taken off North Carolina in 1987.