The Atlantic mackerel, Scomber scombrus, is found in tremendous and sustainable numbers in the temperate waters of the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and the northern Atlantic.
These fish can grow to 24 inches and live for 18 years. Like many tuna-like species, they have retractable fins, powerful, rigid tails, and tiny smooth scales, all of which facilitate speed. In addition, their distinct wavy black lines on a greenish-blue dorsal surface help them detect motion and confuse predators while schooling.
Over one million tonnes of these highly nutritious fish are caught each year. Mackerel are very easy to catch; even my dad — not the best fisherman — would have no problem bringing in a haul. It wouldn’t take us long to fill a large plastic garbage bag. Our punishment was having to eat these oily fish for two meals a day all summer long.
I should have asked Santa to bring me a smoker.
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.