[page 349]

Cavalla Scomberomorus cavalla (Cuvier) 1829 [42]


[Jordan and Evermann, 1896-1900, p. 875.]

Cavalla (Scomberomorus cavalla)

Figure 184.—Cavalla (Scomberomorus cavalla), Woods Hole. From Goode. Drawing by H. L. Todd.


The pectorals of the cavalla are scaly, and its anal fin, like that of the king mackerel originates about under the origin of its second dorsal, in which it differs from the Spanish mackerel (p. 347). In fact, it resembles the king mackerel so closely in general appearance that the one might easily be taken for the other by anybody not used to handling the two fish as southern fisherman are. But the lateral line (very conspicuous in both) is a sure clue to identity, for this dips downward abruptly in the cavalla under the forepart of the second dorsal fin, but slopes down only gradually there in the king mackerel. Other points of difference are that the outline of the first dorsal fin is concave in the cavalla (nearly straight in the king); that the cavalla has a large number of teeth (about 40 in each jaw, as against about 30); that its body is more slender (about one-sixth as deep as it is long); and that the upper forepart of its first dorsal fin is not noticeably darker than the remainder of the fin.


Iron gray above, silvery lower down on the sides and on the belly; the sides marked with darker gray or yellowish spots, which tend to disappear in large fish.


Said to reach a length of a little more than 5 feet, and a weight of about 100 pounds. The rod and reel record is 73½ pounds, for one taken off Bimini, Bahamas, February 1935, by L. B. Harrison.

General range—

Warm parts of the Atlantic; south to Brazil in the western side; north regularly to North Carolina (June-November);[43] occasionally to southern Massachusetts; and as a stray to the southern part of the Gulf of Maine.

Occurrence in the Gulf of Maine—

The only Gulf of Maine record of which we know is of one 20½ inches long (to base of caudal fin) taken in a trap at North Truro, Cape Cod, in August 1949.[44]

[42] Fowler (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 56, 1905, p. 766) refers this species to a new subgenus Sierra.

[43] Taylor (Survey Marine Fisheries North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1951, pp. 261-265) has given an interesting survey of the seasonal presence of various southern game fishes off the North Carolina coast.

[44] This specimen was received through the kindness of John Worthington and the Pond Village Cold Storage Co.