Atlantic horse mackerel

Atlantic horse mackerel
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Carangidae
Genus: Trachurus
Species: T. trachurus
Binomial name
Trachurus trachurus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Scomber trachurus Linnaeus, 1758
  • Caranx trachurus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Trachurus vulgaris Fleming, 1828
  • Trachurus europaeus Gronow, 1854
  • Trachurus capensis (non Castelnau, 1861)
  • Trachurus trachurus capensis (non Castelnau, 1861)
  • Branchialepes tabulae (non Barnard, 1927)
  • Selar tabulae (non Barnard, 1927)

The Atlantic horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus) is a species of jack mackerel in the family Carangidae.[2] It gets its common name from the legend that other smaller species of fish could ride on its back over great distances. Other common names include European horse mackerel (in the U.S.), common scad, scad, and saurel.

The Atlantic horse mackerel can be found in the eastern Atlantic from Norway to South Africa, including Iceland, the Azores, the Canary Islands, and Cape Verde, and also in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.[1]

It congregates in large schools in coastal waters, where it feeds on crustaceans, squid, and other fishes. The two main populations are the west stock which spawns in the eastern Atlantic off the coasts of western Europe, and the north stock which spawns in the North Sea.

This mackerel is edible and can be smoked, fried, salted, and baked. It is an important commercial fish.


This species was used in 1810 by Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz as the type species for the genus Trachurus, using the name Trachurus saurus. Taxonomists later determined that T. saurus was in fact the same species as Scomber trachurus, described earlier by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Under the rules of binomial nomenclature, that species is now known as Trachurus trachurus,

Ecology and distribution

This species occurs as a pelagic schooling fish. An example of prominent schooling occurrence is in the Sea of the Hebrides, a place where the Atlantic herring is also found as a pelagic schooling fish.[3]


Commercial capture of Atlantic horse mackerel in tonnes from 1950 to 2009
Atlantic horse mackerel at a market


  1. 1 2 Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2006). "Trachurus trachurus" in FishBase. March 2006 version.
  2. "Trachurus trachurus (Linnaeus, 1758)". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  3. C.Michael Hogan, (2011) Sea of the Hebrides. Eds. P. Saundry & C.J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC.


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