Greater Amberjack

Greater Amberjack, Seriola dumerili

The Greater Amberjack, Seriola dumerili, whose common Spanish name is medregal coronado, is the largest Atlantic Ocean member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. There are nine global members of the genus Seriola, six of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic, two in the Pacific, and this species in both oceans.

The Greater Amberjacks have “jack-like” elongated oval compressed fusiform bodies that are wider in the middle and taper at both ends and have a depth that is 25 to 29% of standard length. They are amber in color with a lighter underside and have a prominent dark amber stripe that runs from their nose to just in front of their dorsal fin; this stripe fades quickly upon collection and is more prominent in smaller fish. They have a massive body, a long pointed snout, relatively small eyes, and a large terminal mouth equipped with minute teeth. They have long anal and dorsal fins and short pectoral fins which are equal in length to the pelvic fins. Their caudal fin is V-shaped and lunate and the base lacks finlets or scutes. They have 11 to 19 gill rakers.

The Greater Amberjacks are a subtropical species found inshore often associated with rocky reefs, floating debris, and wrecks at depths ranging from 60 to 240 feet. They reach a maximum length of 1.9 meters (6 feet 3 inches) and weight of 80.6 kg (205 pounds), however, they are typically in the 40-pound range. Females are larger and live longer than males and have lifespans averaging seventeen years. Juveniles travel in schools and the adults are solitary. They are opportunistic predators feeding on benthic and pelagic fish as well as squid and crustaceans. They are preyed upon by larger fish, including Yellowfin Tuna and seabirds. In Mexican waters they are found throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

In Mexican waters the Greater Amberjacks are found in all waters of the Atlantic.

The Greater Amberjack can be confused with the Lesser Amberjack, Seriola fasciata (maximum length of 12 inches; 21 to 24 gill rakers) and the Banded Rudderfish, Seriola zonata (12 to 16 gill rakers; short anal fin base).

The Greater Amberjacks are popular recreational game fish and also fished commercially. They are heavily regulated within the Gulf of Mexico with strict bag and length limits and seasonal closures. They are famous for their slow, steady, and consistent “pull,” resembling a major locomotive that can continue for several minutes without a pause. Their food value is viewed as marginal and they have been implicated in cases of Cigua Toxin poisoning. From a conservation perspective they are currently considered to be of Least Concern with stable populations.

Greater Amberjack, Seriola dumeril. Fish caught from coastal waters off  Playa de Carmen, Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo, April 2012. Length: 83 cm (33 inches). Weight:  8.2 kg (18 pounds). Caught, photo and identification courtesy of Maurice Kerger, Holland.

Greater Amberjack, Seriola dumerili. Fish caught from coastal waters off New Jersey, July 2015. Length: 26 cm (10 inches). Catch and photo courtesy of Leo Slaninko.