Pomatomus saltatrix Linnaeus, 1766, Carolina, United States.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English (Australia): Tailor.
Body fusiform and elongate, with two dorsal fins, an elongate anal fin, and a slightly forked caudal fin. There are seven to eight spines in the first dorsal fin and one spine and 13–28 soft rays in the second dorsal fin. The anal fin has two to three spines and 12–27 soft rays. Both the dorsal and anal fin soft rays have a scaly appearance. There is a black blotch at the base of each of the pectoral fins. The mouth has sharp and compressed jaw teeth arranged in a single prominent series. The preopercle has a membranous flap that extends over the subopercle. Color is silvery blue or greenish blue on the back, with silvery flanks and belly. Grows to 51 in (130 cm) length and lives as long as nine years.
Favors subtropical waters but enters tropical and temperate waters seasonally. In the eastern Atlantic it occurs from Portugal south to South Africa, including Madeira and the Canary Islands; it also may be found in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. In the western Atlantic, it is distributed from Canada to Florida and Bermuda and south as far as Argentina. In the Pacific, it is found throughout most of Australia, except for the Northern Territory but is absent from the northwest Pacific, virtually all of the central Pacific, and the eastern Pacific. In the Indian Ocean, this species ranges from East Africa and Madagascar north to southern Oman and east to southwest India, the Malay Peninsula, and Western Australia. Records from Hawaii and Taiwan require verification, and those from New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Northern Territory of Australia probably are in error.
Pelagic but prefers inshore waters and often is found off rocky or sandy headlands, beaches, and breakwaters. Enters estuaries. Moves with the tide.
Adults form schools or loose aggregations. Individuals are reported to move in association with sharks and billfishes. Juveniles form schools. Schools migrate seasonally.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Highly predatory. Schools or aggregations forage inshore and in open water, attacking schools of prey, mainly smaller fishes and squids, and continues to attack after having fed to satiation. Dangerous if handled, because it bites out of water and reportedly has severed fingers or caused serious wounds. Is reported to attack splashing swimmers, too.
Spawning is seasonal, usually in spring and summer months (May–August in the northwest Atlantic; March–May and September– November in the southwest Atlantic, north of the equator; September–December in the Southern Hemisphere), and occurs serially. Females are remarkably fecund, with egg counts ranging from 400,000–2,000,000 depending upon body size of the female. Eggs are pelagic and buoyant, about 0.04 in (1.09 mm) in diameter, and hatch after 1.5–2 days. Larvae are pelagic, possess large heads and mouths, and acquire teeth on both jaws by the time they reach 0.13 in (3.3 mm) in length. The yolk sac disappears soon afterwards and larvae become predacious. Dorsal, anal, and caudal fins differentiate at about 0.25 in (6.35 mm), and fin rays appear at about 0.33 in (8.4 mm). Dorsal spines develop more fully at 1.1 in (27.9 mm). Pigmentation is apparent on the head dorsally and on the gut at 0.33 in (8.4 mm), with very small dots appearing on the entire body at 1.1 in (27.9 mm).
Not listed by the IUCN, but vulnerable to overfishing on both commercial and recreational scales. Has been caught for sport but is wasted because the flesh degrades quickly without proper handling. Population sizes are cyclical.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Very important commercial species that also is a significant and prized game fish.
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