The Jack Family – Carangidae
Island Jack, Carangoides orthogrammus, a representative member of the Jack or Carangidae Family. This photo can also be found on page 331 of a book entitled “Fil-O-Fish”, a waterproof handbook of Australian fish where the Island Jack is known locally as the Thicklip Trevally and found along the eastern, northern, and western coasts of Australia.
The fish of the Jack or Carangidae Family are known collectively in Mexico’s fishing areas as jureles and pámpanos. The family is very large and includes the Jacks, Amberjacks, Crevalles, Jack-Mackerels, Leatherjacks, Lookdowns, Pilotfish, Pompanos, Scads, and Trevallies with more than one hundred fifty global species that have been placed in thirty genera found in all tropical and subtropical seas. They are schooling pelagic fish with large continental distributions and are normally found near the surface far off shore. The Jacks are generally silvery in color being darker dorsally and lighter ventrally. They range from 30 cm (12 inches) to 1.7 meter (5 feet 7 inches) in length and from 0.5 kg (1 pound) to 41 kg (90 pounds) in weight. They have widely differing body shapes. Most are powerful mid-water swimmers characterized by streamlined compressed aerodynamic bodies with slender tail bases and deeply forked caudal fins with equal lobes. Their heads vary from moderately long and rounded to short, deep, and very compressed with eyes that are small to large. Their snouts are pointed to blunt and they have large gill openings. Their anal and dorsal fins are low but often have elongated rays at the front. Their anal fin has two detached spines (a key to identify this family), one additional spine, and 15 to 39 low spines that are short to elongated in length. Their first dorsal fin is moderate to very low in height with 4 to 8 spines, and their second dorsal fin has one spine and 18 to 44 rays. Their lateral line is arched or elevated above the pectoral fins and straight posteriorly extending into the caudal fin. Many Jacks have prominent scutes on the rear portion of their lateral line. Their bodies are covered with small scales.
The Jacks are voracious predators feeding primarily on small fish; some species also consume crustaceans and mollusks, while the Scads mainly eat planktonic invertebrates. Although not strictly reef fish, Jacks are common over rocky structures, along the edge of reefs, and sometimes adjacent to steep slopes and large “drop-offs”. They frequently travel in large schools and roam considerable distances, following schools of smaller bait fish. They spawn pelagically, releasing large numbers of tiny buoyant eggs that travel the globe, carried by currents. Most Jacks are highly esteemed as food fish and are targeted by both commercial and sport fishermen. They are considered to be very important commercial fish with annual catches in excess of 1 million tons from the western central Pacific alone where they are caught via trawls, purse seines, traps and longlines. The Caranx, Seriola, and Trachinotus genera are highly regarded as sportsfish.
JUVENILES! Very small small jacks show up on occasion either on the high seas or in bait nets and trying to determine their identity is a real task and is exceedingly difficult. I have included two photos below with one tentative identification made by H.J. Walker, Jr., Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA. They are included here in to “start the ball rolling” in that the more photos of these types of small fish that can be made available will eventually allow us to sort them out.
Bigeye Scad, Selar crumenophthalmus, juvenile. Fish collected from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, April 2009. Length: 2.6 cm (1.0 inch). Tentative identification.
Unknown. Fish collected from coastal waters off Gonzaga Bay, Baja California, June 2016. Length: 2.6 cm (1.0 inch). Catch and photo courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Loreto, Baja California Sur. Note: some of the likely candidates – the Amberstripe Scad, the Mackerel Scad, the Shortfin Scad and the Jack Mackerel are not known to waters of the northern Sea of Cortez.
Unknown. Fish collected from coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California, June 2013. Length: 2.6 cm (1.0 inch).
The 38 members of the Jack or Carangidae Family found in Mexican fishing waters that are represented in the fish identification section of this website include:
African Pompano, Alectis ciliaris
Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana
Amberstripe Scad, Decapterus muroadsi
Atlantic Bumper, Chloroscombrus chrysurus
Bar Jack, Carangoides ruber
Bigeye Scad, Selar crumenophthalmus
Bigeye Trevally, Caranx sexfasciatus
Blackblotch Pompano, Trachinotus kennedyi
Blackfin Jack, Hemicaranx zelotes
Blue Runner, Caranx crysos
Bluefin Trevally, Caranx melampygus
Cocinero, Caranx vinctus
Crevalle Jack, Caranx hippos
Florida Pompano, Trachinotus carolinus
Fortune Jack, Seriola peruana
Gafftopsail Pompano, Trachinotus rhodopus
Golden Trevally, Gnathanodon speciosus
Greater Amberjack, Seriola dumerili
Green Jack, Caranx caballus
Horse-eye Jack, Caranx latus
Island Jack, Carangoides orthogrammus
Jack Mackerel, Trachurus symmetricus
Leatherjack, Oligoplites saurus
Longjaw Leatherjack, Oligoplites altus
Mackerel Scad, Decapterus macarellus
Mexican Lookdown, Selene brevoortii
Pacific Bumper, Chloroscombrus orqueta
Pacific Crevalle Jack, Caranx caninus
Pacific Moonfish, Selene peruviana
Paloma Pompano, Trachinotus paitensis
Palometa, Trachinotus goodei
Pilotfish, Naucrates ductor
Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata
Shortfin Scad, Decapterus macrosoma
Shortjaw Leatherjack, Oligoplites refulgens
Steel Pompano, Trachinotus stilbe
Threadfin Jack, Carangoides otrynter
Whitemouth Jack, Uraspis helvola
Yellow Jack, Carangoides bartholomaei
Yellowtail, Seriola lalandi