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Jamaican Food Article. - Jamaican Mackerel Fish

Jamaican mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla) are commonly called kings, kingfish, cavalla, carite and sierra. They are in the Family Scombridae- marine spiny-finned fishes such as tunas, mackerels and bonitos. The Jamaican mackerel has a streamlined body, with a tapered head, and very small scales that cover the entire body except the pectoral fins. The color is iridescent bluish green on the back, lower sides and belly gray to silver, and the lateral line starts high near the gills and drops sharply below the second dorsal fin. The Jamaican mackerel weights range from five to thirty pounds. The maximum size about 75 to 90 pounds, but in the marketplace the average weight is five to 20 pounds.

Jamaican mackerel are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters including the open waters of
Jamaica. They inhabit coastal areas, usually in waters less than 240 feet deep and coral reefs, offshore currents, tide rips and large bays.
Jamaican mackerel are schooling fish that migrates from south Florida waters in winter too more northerly waters in the spring. They prefer water temperatures above 68 degrees F. The species is noted for its remarkable leaps, often clearing the water by 10 feet or more. Jamaican mackerel feeds mainly on surface-schooling fish such as, thread herring, sardine, shrimp and squid. They are commercially harvested by hook and line.

Now is the time to enjoy delicious, healthy Jamaican mackerel. Jamaican mackerels have darker meat and are one of the tastiest of the mackerel family. Jamaican mackerels are also one of the richest sources for Omega-3 fatty acids. These are the polyunsaturated fatty acids with huge health benefits. They are easily filleted and excellent eating baked, broiled, steamed, smoked, poached, or fried. Jamaican mackerels are beautifully colored finfish caught off both Florida coasts. Their slender bullet-shaped bodies are blue and silver, spotted with golden yellow or olive ovals. They are distinguished from the Cero or Jamaican mackerel in having these spots without stripes on the sides, and in lacking scales on the pectoral fins.

Jamaican mackerels are members of the large family of fish that include the Tunas and other Mackerels. Although these fish vary greatly in size, they share many common characteristics including being very fast, powerful swimmers. The average size of Jamaican mackerel is from 2-3 pounds, while a weight of 9-10 pounds is considered large. Jamaican mackerels are considered coastal pelagic fin fish, forming immense, fast-moving schools that range the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to the Gulf of Mexico. In the late summer and early fall this species migrates southward to spend the winter and early spring along Jamaica's southern coast. Jamaican mackerels do not appear to move freely around the Florida Keys, creating separate Gulf and Atlantic populations.

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