Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson (Lacepède 1800)

Other Names: Albacore, Banded Tuna, Doggie, Giant Mackerel, Kingfish, Leaping Tuna, Macko, Narrow-banded Spanish-mackerel, Narrow-bar, Narrow-barred Mackerel, Narrow-barred Spanish Mackerel, Narrowedbarred Mackerel, Narrowedbarred Spanish Mackerel, Snook, Spaniard, Tanguigue

A Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson, on Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia, 25 May 2015. Source: Mick Haywood / Fishbase. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A dark iridescent bluish-grey mackerel, becoming silver with blue reflections on the sides, and marked with numerous narrow, wavy bars that extend below the lateral line. Juveniles are often spotted.

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. & Schultz, S. 2024, Scomberomorus commerson in Fishes of Australia, accessed 21 Jun 2024,

Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson (Lacepède 1800)

More Info


Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia, around the tropical north, to Cape Otway, Victoria, including around Tasmania; also Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea. Elsewhere, the species is widespread in the Indo-West Pacific, and has also migrated to the Mediterranean Sea via the Suez Canal. 

Inhabits oceanic and pelagic waters, including around islands and rocky headlands. The species is known to form small schools. 


Dorsal fin D1 XV-XVIII, D2 15-20, followed by 8-11 finlets; Anal fin 16-21 + 7-12 finlets; Pectoral fin 21-24; Gill rakers 0-2 + 1-8 + 1-8; Vertebrae 42-46.

Body elongate, strongly compressed, depth 4.8-5.6 in SL. Upper jaw reaching to posterior margin of eye or slightly beyond; teeth in jaws strong and compressed single series of 5-38 sharp triangular teeth. 

Body covered in small scales, no anterior corselet present. Single lateral line abruptly bent downward below end of second dorsal fin. Caudal peduncle with a well-developed keel, flanked on each side by a smaller keel. Dorsal fins separated by a narrow space, anal fin originating below midpoint of second dorsal fin. Swim bladder absent.


Maximum recorded size 240 cm FL, and 70 kg.


Dark bluish-grey to bluish-green above,  sides silvery grey, belly whitish. Sides with 40-50 dark grey vertical bars extending below the lateral line; number of bars increases from as few as 20 in a 40 cm specimen to as many as 65 at 150 cm; bars occasionally breaking up into spots ventrally. Juveniles with a large black oval spots on body and fewer than 20 bars; first dorsal fin black except for middle third of fin.


Feeds mostly on small fishes such as anchovies, clupeids and carangids; also consumes squids and crustaceans.


Females mature at 70 cm fork length, males mature at 65 cm fork length. On the Great Barrier reef, the spawning season extends from October to December. Eggs and larvae are pelagic.


An important commercial and recreational fish throughout its range in Australia. 

Spanish Mackerel migrate southwards in summer, following the shoreward migration of its prey. This migration enables both commercial and recreational fishers to catch it on line using lures as bait. Peak catches occur between August and September.


  • IUCN Red List : Near Threatened
  • Remarks

    Fish caught on the east coast of Queensland have reportedly caused poisoning due to a lipid-soluble toxin which is similar to ciguatoxin.


    The species is named in honour of the naturalist Philibert Commerçon. Lacepède based his description on Commerson's illustration and notes.

    Species Citation

    Scomber commerson Lacepède 1800, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons, v. 2 : 598, 600, pl. 20(1), no locality.


    Bray, D.J. & Schultz, S. 2024


    Atlas of Living Australia

    Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorus commerson (Lacepède 1800)


    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.

    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. & 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

    Collette, B.B. & Russo, J.L. 1985. Morphology, systematics, and biology of the Spanish mackerels (Scomberomorus, Scombridae). Fishery Bulletin (U.S.) 82: 545-692, 70 figs See ref online

    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.

    Gomon, M.F. 2008. Families Sphyraenidae to Centrolophidae. pp. 774-800 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.

    Gomon, M.F. & Robertson, E.M. 1994. Family Scombridae. pp. 819-828, figs 724-732 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs.

    Grant, E.M. 1991. Fishes of Australia. Brisbane : EM Grant Pty Ltd 480 pp.

    Hoschke, A., Whisson, G. & Moore, G.I. 2019. Complete list of fishes from Rottnest Island. pp. 150-161 in Whisson, G. & Hoschke, A. (eds). The Rottnest Island fish book. 2nd ed. Perth, Western Australia : Aqua Research and Monitoring Services.

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

    Hutchins, J.B. 1997. Checklist of fishes of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. pp. 239-253 in Wells, F.E. (ed.). The Marine Flora and fauna of the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum.

    Hutchins, J.B. & Swainston, R. 1986. Sea Fishes of Southern Australia. Complete field guide for anglers and divers. Perth : Swainston Publishing 180 pp.

    Hutchins, J.B. & Thompson, M. 1983. The Marine and Estuarine Fishes of South-western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 103 pp. 345 figs.

    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)

    Johnson, J.W. & Gill, A.C. 2005. Reef and shore fishes of Sweers Island, Gulf of Carpentaria. Gulf of Carpentaria Scientific Study Report. Geography Monograph Series. Brisbane: Royal Geographic Society of Queensland. pp. 239-260

    Kailola, P.J., Williams, M.J., Stewart, P.C., Reichelt, R.E., McNee, A. & Grieve, C. 1993. Australian Fisheries Resources. Canberra : Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation 422 pp.

    Lacépède, B.G. 1800. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Paris : chez Plassan Vol. 2 632 pp. 20 pls. See ref online

    McPherson, G.R. 1987. Food of narrow-barred Spanish mackerel in north Queensland waters, and their relevance to the commercial troll fishery. Queensland Journal of Agricultural and Animal Science 44(1): 69-73.

    McPherson, G.R. 1992. Age and growth of the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson Lacepède, 1800) in north-eastern Queensland waters. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 43(5): 1269-1282.

    Mcpherson, G.R., 1993. Reproductive biology of the narrow barred Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson Lacepede, 1800) in Queensland waters. Asian Fisheries Science 6(2): 169-182.

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

    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.

    Roughley, T.C. 1957. Fish and Fisheries of Australia. Sydney : Angus & Robertson 341 pp.

    Russell, B.C., Larson, H.K., Hutchins, J.B. & Allen, G.R. 2005. Reef fishes of the Sahul Shelf. The Beagle, Records of the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory Supplement 1 2005: 83-105

    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.

    Yearsley, G.K., Last, P.R. & Ward, R.D. (eds) 1999. Australian Seafood Handbook. Hobart : CSIRO Marine Research 460 pp.

    Quick Facts

    CAAB Code:37441007

    Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

    Danger:Reports of ciguatera poisoning

    Depth:0-200 m

    Fishing:Commercial, recreational fish


    Habitat:Pelagic, inshore, oceanic

    Max Size:240 cm FL; 70 kg

    Species Image Gallery

    Species Maps

    CAAB distribution map