One of our most common large fish, Caranx latus, is in the jack family. It is a powerful silver fish with a large dark eye and yellow tail.
One of the greatest experiences a diver can have is to swim into the school of hundreds of these fish as they corkscrew from the depths of the reef to the surface.
I often have to correct my divers when they announce, “I just saw a large school of yellowfin tuna!” But of course, one day, I was roundly punished for my condescending rebukes.
I had just surfaced with a brand new resort diver named ‘Patches’.
“Wow, Tom, wasn’t it great to see all those yellowfin tuna?!”
“Patches, those were horse-eye jacks; we are at a site called ‘Mesa’ which is 25 feet deep, so no tuna would ever come in here.” (You could do a thousand dives in the deep blue where those pelagics live and never see a yellowfin tuna.)
Two seconds later, we were bombarded by diving frigate birds while large yellowfin tuna shot 10 feet into the air.
“What kind of fish are they, Tom?”
“Shut up, Patches.”
At any rate, we will always have plenty of horse-eye jacks to see because, luckily, they taste like wood.
Tom Byrnes is the owner/operator of Cayman Marine Lab. He acquired his Coast Guard Captain’s Licence when he was a teenager and worked as a commercial fisherman in his youth. He got his first diving certificate in 1974 with the YMCA. He has worked in the local dive industry for more than 35 years and has a PhD in Marine Biology.