Rainbow Runner

Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata

The Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata, whose common Spanish name is macarela salmón and whose local name is arcoiris, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. There are is only one global member of the genus Elagatis, this species which is found in Mexican waters of both the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The Rainbow Runners have greatly elongated fusiform bodies that taper at both ends and have a depth that is 21 to 25% of standard length. They are dark olive-green to blue dorsally and white ventrally. They have two narrow light blue or bluish-white horizontal stripes along their sides straddling a broad olive or yellowish stripe. Their fins have an olive or yellow tint. Their head and snout are pointed. They have a small mouth that opens at the front and ends well before the eyes. Their soft anal fin base is significantly shorter than their soft dorsal fin base. Their caudal fin is deeply forked. They have short pectoral fins, which are equal in length to the pelvic fins, and a single two-rayed finlet behind their anal and dorsal fins. Their lateral line has a slight arch anteriorly. Their body is covered with small oval scales.

The Rainbow Runner are a pelagic species found in the epipelagic zone in and around coral and rocky reefs in large schools from near the surface to depths up to 490 feet. They reach a maximum 1.8 meter (5 feet 11 inches) in length and 17.1 kg (37 pounds 9 ounces) in weight with the world record being caught in Mexican waters. They feed on crustaceans, small fish, and squid. Reproduction occurs via the release of pelagic eggs spawned during the summer.

The Rainbow Runners are a wide-ranging and circumtropical species found in both the western and eastern Pacific. In Mexican waters they are limited to the tip of the Baja, throughout the Sea of Cortez, and along the coast of the mainland south to Guatemala.

The Rainbow Runner can be confused with the Bluestriped Chub, Sectator ocyurus (wider body) and the Jack Mackerel, Trachurus symmetricus (lacks blue stripes).

The Rainbow Runners are caught primarily with hook and line and are excellent sportsfish. They are also taken commercially with gill nets, purse seines, and on trolling lines being caught at the level of 20,000 tons per year; the largest catches are made in Indonesia and the Philippines. They are marketed fresh, smoked or dried and salted and considered excellent table fare.

Rainbow Runner (1)

Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata. Fish caught in coastal waters off Point Palmilla, Baja California Sur, November 2011. Length: 60 cm (24 inches).

Rainbow Runner, Elagatis bipinnulata. Underwater photo taken in coastal waters off Kailua-Kona, HI, November 2017. Length: 71 cm (28 inches). Photo courtesy of Bob Hillis, Ivins, UT.