Frigate Mackerel, Auxis thazard (Lacépède 1800)

Other Names: Bullet Mackerel, Frigate Tuna, Frigate-tuna, Leadenall

A Frigate Mackerel, Auxis thazard, from off Gerroa, New South Wales, . Source: matt-rees / License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A small dark blue tuna with silvery sides and belly, and 15 or more narrow, oblique to nearly horizontal dark wavy lines in a scaleless area above the lateral line. 

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J & Schultz, S., Auxis thazard in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Frigate Mackerel, Auxis thazard (Lacépède 1800)

More Info


Circumaustralian in oceanic and coastal waters. Elsewhere the species is circumglobal in tropical and temperate seas, although rare around oceanic islands.

Adults occur in coastal or near-coastal waters, while juveniles are widespread throughout the world's oceans. An oceanic species, epipelagic and neritic. A schooling species, the frigate mackerel forms an important food source for larger tuna species, billfishes, barracudas, sharks and other predators.


Dorsal fin X–XII + 10–12 + 6–9 finlets; Anal fin 12–15 + 6–8 finlets; Caudal fin  17; Pectoral fin  22–23; Pelvic fin I, 5; Gill rakers 36–42.

Body depth 17–23% FL; body naked except for corslet of scales on anterior body and along mid-sides; corselet no more than 5 scales wide under 2nd dorsal-fin origin, anterior margin of scaleless area above corselet anterior to pectoral-fin tip. Anal-fin origin below middle of 2nd dorsal. Caudal peduncle with well developed keel, flanked on each side by a smaller keel.


Reaches at least 58 cm, but more commonly between 25 and 40 cm. The species grows larger than Auxis rochei.


Known to feed on smaller members of their own species. Prey items include fishes, crustaceans and cephalopods.


Size at maturity ranges between 29 cm and 35 cm (FL), depending on location. The spawning seasons also varies with location. Spawning occurs in batches. Number of eggs range from 200 thousand to 1.06 million depending on the size of the female. The total number of eggs spawned in a season can reach over 1.37 million.

The eggs and larvae are pelagic, able to tolerate water temperatures of between 21.6 and 30.5 degrees.


Commercially important in many parts of the world, and sometimes caught in large numbers. Frigate mackerel are taken with beach seines, shore seines, drift nets, pursue seines, hook-and-line, gill nets and by trolling. 


IUCN: Least Concern


In Australia,the flesh is considered poor eating. Although of a high quality, it deteriorates rapidly and has a high oil content. 

Similar Species

The Frigate Mackeral is smilar to and difficult to separate from the Bullet Tuna, Auxis rochei. The Bullet Tuna has a wide posterior extension of the scaly corselet (usually 10–15 scales wide below the origin of the 2nd dorsal fin), and the naked area dorsally not extending anterior to the pectoral-fin tip. The Frigate Mackerel has a narrow posterior extension of the scaly corselet (only 1–5 scales wide below the origin of the 2nd dorsal fin), and the naked area dorsally extending anterior to the pectoral-fin tip.

Species Citation

Scomber thazard Lacepède, 1800, Historie naturelle des poissons. 2: 599. Type locality: Kampung Loleba, Wasile District, Halmahera Island, Moluccas, Indonesia, 0°58'N, 127°56'E.


Bray, D.J & Schultz, S.


Australian Faunal Directory

Frigate Mackerel, Auxis thazard (Lacépède 1800)


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

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.B. 2010. Reproduction and Development in Epipelagic Fishes, pp. 21-63. In Cole, K.S. (ed.) Reproduction and sexuality in marine fishes: patterns and processes. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Collette, B.B. & Aadland, C.R. 1996. Revision of the frigate tunas (Scombridae, Auxis), with descriptions of two new subspecies from the eastern Pacific. Fishery Bulletin (U.S.) 94(3): 423-441 figs 1-13 

Collette, B., Acero, A., Amorim, A.F., Boustany, A., Canales Ramirez, C., Cardenas, G., Carpenter, K.E., de Oliveira Leite Jr., N., Di Natale, A., Fox, W., Fredou, F.L., Graves, J., Guzman-Mora, A., Viera Hazin, F.H., Juan Jorda, M., Kada, O., Minte Vera, C., Miyabe, N., Montano Cruz, R., Nelson, R., Oxenford, H., Salas, E., Schaefer, K., Serra, R., Sun, C., Teixeira Lessa, R.P., Pires Ferreira Travassos, P.E., Uozumi, Y. & Yanez, E. 2011. Auxis thazard. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T170344A6757270. Downloaded on 31 October 2017.

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Yesaki, M. & Arce, F. 1994. A review of the Auxis fisheries of the Philippines and some aspects of the biology of Frigate (A. thazard) and Bullet (A. rochei) Tunas in the Indo-Pacific region. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 336(2): 409-439. 

Yoshida, H.O. & Nakamura, E.L. 1965. Notes on schooling behavior, spawning, and morphology of Hawaiian frigate mackerels, Auxis thazard and Auxis rochei. Copeia 1965: 111-114.

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37441009

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Depth:0-200 m

Habitat:Pelagic, oceanodromous

Max Size: 62 cm FL

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map