Mouth Mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta (Cuvier 1816)

Other Names: Indian Mackerel, Long-jawed Mackerel, Rake-gilled Mackerel

A Mouth Mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta, in the Red Sea at Port Ghalib, El Bahr El Ahmar, Egypt. Source: BBM Explorer / Flickr / License: CC By Attribution-NonCommercial


A silvery mackerel with several dark stripes on upper body, uppermost stripes breaking up into spots on towards the rear of the body, and a prominent black spot on the body near the lower margin of the pectoral fin.

A school of Mouth Mackerel feeding in the Red Sea.

A school of Mouth Mackerels (aka Indian Mackerel) feeding.

Mouth Mackerel (aka Long-jawed Mackerel) feeding in Palau.

Mouth Mackerel feeding in the Red Sea at Marsa Alam, Egypt.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray & Sascha Schultz, Rastrelliger kanagurta in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Mouth Mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta (Cuvier 1816)

More Info


Widespread in the tropical Indo-West Pacific; in Australian waters, confined to the northern half of the continent, from North West Cape (WA) to Cape Manifold (QLD). Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-west Pacific from the Red Sea and East Africa to Indonesia, north to the Ryukyu Islands and China, south to Australia, Melanesia and Samoa. The species also occurs in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, having entered via the Suez Canal.

A coastal pelagic species usually found in coastal bays, harbours and deep lagoons, usually in plankton-rich waters - often in large schools.


Dorsal fin IX-XI + 11-13 + 5 finlets; Anal fin 11-12 + 5 finlets; Pectoral fin 19-22; Gill rakers 30-46.

Body elongate and slightly compressed, depth 3.4-4.0 in SL. First and second dorsal fin widely separate; second dorsal and anal fins each followed by five finlets; pectoral fins short. Mouth very large, maxilla reaching beyond rear margin of eye; jaw teeth small, conical, absent from vomer and palatines; gill rakers very long (visible when mouth open), longest rakers with many spinules. Body fully scaled, those around head and pectoral fin larger and more prominent that remainder, but not forming a corselet. Caudal peduncle with well-developed keel, flanked on each side by a smaller keel. Swim bladder present.


T 38 cm TL, usually to about 25 cm.


Blue-green dorsally, sides and belly silvery. Twin rows of dark spots on sides of dorsal fin bases, narrow longitudinal bands above lateral line and a black spot near lower margin of pectoral fin base. Dorsal fins yellow with black tips, pectoral and caudal fins yellow, other fins dusky.


Juveniles feed on diatoms and small zooplankton such as crustaceans and larval polychaete worms. Adults feed on larger prey such as shrimp larvae and small fishes. Fish eggs are also consumed.


Matures from about 17 cm fork length and lives to be at least 4 years old. Spawns in summer.


An important species in commercial and artisanal fisheries throughout its range - taken with purse-seines, fish corrals, gill-nets, cast and drift nets, and with dynamite.

Species Citation

Scomber kanagurta Cuvier 1816, Le Règne Animal Distribué d'après son Organisation. Poissons. Ed. 1(2): 313. Type locality: Vizagapatam, India.


Dianne J. Bray & Sascha Schultz

Mouth Mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta (Cuvier 1816)


Abdussamad, E.M., Kasim, H.M. & Achaya, P. 2006. Fishery and population characteristics of Indian mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta (Cuvier) at Kakinada. Indian Journal of Fisheries 53(1): 77-83.

Abdussamad, E.M., Pillai, N.G.K., Kasim, H.M., Mohamed, O.M.M.J.H. & Jeyabalan, K. 2010. Fishery, biology and population characteristics of the Indian mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta (Cuvier) exploited along the Tuticorin coast. Indian Journal of Fisheries 57(1): 17-21.

Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls.

Allen, G.R. & Erdmann, M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Perth : Tropical Reef Research 3 vols, 1260 pp.

Allen, G.R. & Swainston, R. 1988. The Marine Fishes of North-Western Australia. A field guide for anglers and divers. Perth, WA : Western Australian Museum vi 201 pp., 70 pls.

Blaber, S.J.M., Young, J.W. & Dunning, M.C.  1985. Community structure and zoogeographic affinities of the coastal fishes of the Dampier region of north-western Australia. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 36: 247-266.

Collette, B.B. 1970. Rastrelliger kanagurta, another Red Sea immigrant into the Mediterranean Sea, with a key to Mediterranean species of Scomberidae. Bulletin of Sea Fish Research Station, Haifa 54: 3-6.

Collette, B.B. 2001. Scombridae. pp. 3721-3756 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, T.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 6 pp. 3381-4218.

Collette, B., Di Natale, A., Fox, W., Juan Jorda, M. & Nelson, R. 2011. Rastrelliger kanagurta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. . Downloaded on 30 May 2015.

Collette, B.B. & Nauen, C.E. 1983. FAO species catalogue. Scombrids of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of tunas, mackerels, bonitos and related species known to date. Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol. 2. Rome : FAO. 137 pp. 81 figs

Cuvier, G.L. 1816. Le Règne Animal, distribué d'après son organisation, pour servir de base a l'histoire naturelle des animaux et d'introduction a l'anatomie comparée. Les reptiles et les poisons. Paris : Déterville Vol. 2 pp. 104-351.

FAO-FIGIS, 2005. A world overview of species of interest to fisheries. Chapter: Rastrelliger kanagurta. Retrieved on 07 July 2005, from 3p. FIGIS Species Fact Sheets. Species Identification and Data Programme-SIDP, FAO-FIGIS

Fraser-Brunner, A. 1950. The fishes of the family Scombridae. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 12 3(7): 131-163 figs 1-35

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp.

Hutchins, B. 2004. Fishes of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 66: 343–398.

Johnson, J.W. 2010. Fishes of the Moreton Bay Marine Park and adjacent continental shelf waters, Queensland, Australia. pp. 299-353 in Davie, P.J.F. & Phillips, J.A. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Marine Biological Workshop, The Marine Fauna and Flora of Moreton Bay. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 54(3)

Jordan, D.S. & Starks, E.C. in Jordan, D.S. & Dickerson, M.C. 1908. On a collection of fishes from Fiji, with notes on certain Hawaiian fishes. Proceedings of the United States National Museum 34(1625): 603-617 figs 1-6

Kuiter, R.H. 1992. Tropical Reef-Fishes of the Western Pacific, Indonesia and Adjacent Waters. Jakarta : PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama 314 pp. pls.

Larson, H.K. & Williams, R.S. 1997. Darwin Harbour fishes: a survey and annotated checklist. pp. 339-380 in Hanley, H.R., Caswell, G., Megirian, D. & Larson, H.K. (eds). The Marine Flora and Fauna of Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia. Proceedings of the Sixth International Marine Biology Workshop. Darwin : Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 466 pp.

Matsui T. 1967. Review of the mackerel genera Scomber and Rastrelliger with description of a new species of Rastrelliger. Copeia 1967: 71-89.

Pepperell, J. 2010. Fishes of the Open Ocean a Natural History & Illustrated Guide. Sydney : University of New South Wales Press Ltd 266 pp.

Ramm, D.C., P.J. Pender, R.S. Willing & R.C. Buckworth. 1990. Large-scale spatial patterns of abundance within the assemblage of fish caught by prawn trawlers in Northern Australian waters. Aust. J. Mar. Freshwat. Res. 41(1): 79-95.

Randall, J.E., 2005. Reef and shore fishes of the South Pacific. New Caledonia to Tahiti and the Pitcairn Islands. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii. 720 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Bathurst : Crawford House Press 557 pp. figs.

Russell, B.C. & Houston, W. 1989. Offshore fishes of the Arafura Sea. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory 6(1): 69-84

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1985. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls

Whitley, G.P. 1944. New sharks and fishes from Western Australia. The Australian Zoologist 10(3): 252-273. (described as a new species, Rastrelliger serventyi)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37441012

Conservation:IUCN Data Deficient

Habitat:Epipelagic, reef associated

Max Size:38 cm TL

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map