Yellow Jack

Yellow Jack, Carangoides bartholomaei

The Yellow Jack, Carangoides bartholomaei, whose common Spanish name is cojinuda amarilla, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. There are twenty-two global members of the genus Carangoides, four of which are found in Mexican waters, two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific.

The Yellow Jacks have moderately deep compressed elongated bodies which is typical of the genus Caranx. They are pale yellow to greenish-blue dorsally transitioning to silver ventrally. Their fins have a golden-brown tinge. Larger fish are more yellow and have bright yellow fins. Juveniles have five vertical bands which fade to blotches and then disappear with maturity. Their head is slightly curved and their eyes have well-developed adipose eyelids. Their mouth is relatively small and does not reach the eyes; it is equipped with narrow bands of villiform teeth on both jaws. Their anal fin has slightly pronounced lobes and is similar to the second dorsal fin; their caudal fin is deeply forked with thin lobes and bilateral keels at its base; their first dorsal fin has 7 spines and their second dorsal fin has one spine and 25 to 28 rays; their pectoral fins are very long and are even longer than head length. They have 24 to 30 gill rakers. Their lateral line has a slightly extended anterior curve with 22 to 28 scutes. The rest of their body is covered with smooth scales.

The Yellow Jacks are found on and adjacent to offshore reefs, in the sandy shallows of the Caribbean Islands, and in open waters at depths up to 165 feet. They reach a maximum of 1.0 meter (3 feet 4 inches) in length and 14 kg (36 pounds) in weight. Adults are solitary or found in small groups. They consume small fish including blennies, parrotfish, snappers, and wrasses. In turn they are preyed upon by larger fish and marine mammals; juveniles are preyed upon by sea birds. Reproduction occurs in groups of approximately 300 fish during the winter months. The eggs are pelagic and fertilized externally. Juveniles live near the surface among sargassum weed and jellyfish for protection from predation.

In Mexican waters the Yellow Jack are found in all waters of the Atlantic.

The Yellow Jack is fairly similar to five other Jacks: the Bar Jack, Caranx ruber (blue stripe on top of back), the Black Jack, Caranx lugubris (black scutes), the Blue Runner, Caranx crysos (caudal fin with black tips), the Crevalle Jack, Caranx hippos (gill cover with black spot), and the Horse-eye Jack, Caranx latus (prominent black scutes).

The Yellow Jacks are caught by both commercial and recreational fishermen. They are taken commercially by seines, trawls, and hook and line at a nominal level. Their meat is considered fair to good but is known to contain Cigua Toxin significantly reducing their importance as a food fish.

Yellow Jack, Carangoides bartholomaei, Sub-adult. Fish caught off the beach at Playa del Carmen, Yucatán, Quintana Roo, February 2016. Length: 23 cm (9.5 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Yellow Jack, Carangoides bartholomaei. Fish caught out from coastal waters off Jardines de la Reina, Cuba, August 2005. Length: 76 cm (30 inches). Catch courtesy of Douglas Ouellette, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada. Photo and identification courtesy of George Brinkman, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.