Physical Description

  • A medium-sized, slender, football-shaped fish with a pointed head and a large mouth.
  • Dark blue coloration on back and head, silver coloration on the belly, with mottling and small dusky blotches on the top.
  • Have a pointed dorsal (back) fin resembling that of related species.
  • They can be up to 25 inches long and up to 6 pounds.


  • Southeastern Alaska to Mexico.
  • Most common south of Point Conception, California.


  • Lives in the open ocean within twenty miles of shore.
  • Juveniles live off of sandy beaches, in open bays, and around kelp forests.
  • Adults live near shallow banks, from depths of 0 to 1000 feet.


  • They reproduce by age 4, though some as early as 1.
  • Spawning is at different times of year, based on location. It is year-round off of central Baja California, from late April-September off of California, and from late fall-early spring off Cabo San Lucas.
  • They spawn several times a year, releasing ~70,000 eggs each time.
  • The eggs hatch in 4-5 days.


  • As juveniles, they feed mainly on copepods and rotifers and larval anchovies and sardines.
  • Sometimes even eat smaller larvae of their own kind.
  • As adults, they feed on mysids and euphausiids (krill).


  • Large fish, sharks, tunas, marine mammals, seabirds.
  • Humans.

Interesting Facts

  • Fossils of this fish have been found in the Pliocene of Italy (meaning they were around 2.2 to 3 million years ago)!
  • Chub mackerel larvae can consume up to 87% of their dry body weight a day!
  • They often school in large schools for defense, including with sardines and jack mackerel.

Sources: Diet of Larvae(n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2013, from; Paleobiology Database; NOAA Fisheries; NOAA Fishwatch

Photo: Kevin Lee