Food Fishes - The Mackerel, Salmon, And Others
Mackerel And Other Food Fishes
Various members of the Mackerel fish species are important food fishes. From this fish family comes the common mackerel of the Atlantic Ocean, and also the tunas, bluefish, bonitos, yellowtails, Pacific mackerels and albacores. We consume all of these types as fresh fish, with the exception of the tunas which are popular as canned fish.
Another useful group includes the flat fish, such as flounders and halibuts. We get these from both the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean. In the past, it was not unusual for some halibuts to weigh as much as five hundred pounds. The Flounders are much smaller.
Aside from their importance as food, flat fish (turbots) are interesting because of their habits and peculiar body form.As adults they habitually lie on the bottom, on their sides, and always with the same side of the body upward.
Now, early in life these fish have eyes in normal position, one on each side of the head. However, one eye gradually changes position until it has joined the other eye on the side of the head that is upward or directed to the light. For a more detailed description of this phenomenon check out my previous article.
In thinking about food and game fish we are scarcely likely to overlook the salmon family. I've written in the past more extensively about salmon, but did want to mention how important they have become as a food fish. Several members of this fish group live in fresh water, including certain species of trout and the whitefish of the Great Lakes.
However our principal interest is likely to center upon those species that spend most of their lives int he ocean, but ascend streams to spawn. They are the species that provide us with our canned salmon, once plentiful and inexpensive, but now a definite luxury since the fish have become scarcer and more popular.
Other Food Fishes
There are, of course, many other food and game fishes that are important. Sea basses furnish both sport and food. Tarpon are highly prized in southern waters by fishermen who prefer a fish that will put up a good fight. From the warmer seas come such food types as the Pompano and the Snappers, each variety having its champions among people who like to eat fish.
We also shouldn't forget Swordfish, which are much sought for sport, and more importantly, because we use them as food. They grow to large weights and are noted for their speed in the water and for their fighting ability.
A swordfish has a very long, pointed upper jaw -- hence the word "sword." When harpooned, which is the preferred way of capturing these big surface dwellers, the swordfish has been known to turn upon its pursuers, driving the sword through the bottom of the fisherman's boat, and even sinking it.
Sailfish are related types, well known to the sportsmen. The back fin of a sailfish is very large, and sail-like in appearance, hence their name. There is a sword, as in the case of the swordfish. Sailfish live in the warmer seas, and they, too, are rapid swimmers. They sometimes are over ten feet long. When hooked by fishermen, they often leap clear out of the water, which is quite a sight.
In case you missed it in elementary geography, the Sargasso Sea is located in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Eels Who Once A Great Mystery To Mankind
Although they look rather like serpents, eels are really bony fish and are fairly important food fishes, too, especially to Europeans. However, the really interesting thing about the common eel was the mystery that surrounded its comings and going for centuries. It was a puzzle to Aristotle, one of the earliest students of animals. Young eels were seen to come in from the sea, and to ascend fresh water streams to take up their abode. He wondered where did they come from?
Aristotle seemed to believe that eels did not come from eggs, but from unknown materials at the bottom of the sea. During medieval times, some Europeans came out with another idea -- that pieces of hair from the tails of horses, when placed in the water, would develop into eels! Of course such a notion was sheer nonsense.
Of course, now man knows that each year mature eels from the rivers of North America and Europe go down to the sea. They begin a long journey to the portion of the Atlantic Ocean known as the Sargasso Sea.
Here the eggs are laid, apparently at some distance beneath the surface. When they hatch, the young are not very eel like in appearance. Rather, they are just about transparent and more like a standard fish in form.
They begin a long journey, some of them toward Europe and some toward North America. The trip to Europe covers about three thousand miles and it takes the eels three years to make the journey. The North American eels have a route only about one thousand miles long, and they make it in a single year.
By the time the eels reach their future fresh water homes they are eel-like in appearance. They now live in streams or lakes until they become mature and are ready for the long pilgrimage back to the Sargasso Sea.
The eel I've been describing above is the common eel and should not be confused with the Conger eel, a much larger type which spends its entire life in the sea. Like other eels, the
Conger is snakelike in form, and its large size and ferocious nature make it a respected antagonist. Some of the myths about sea serpents or sea monsters may have their origins in the sightings of large Conger eels.
If You'd Like To Know More!
- Atlantic Mackerel - Status of Fishery Resources off the Northeastern US
- Fish : Sharks, Stingrays, Eels, Piranha : Animal Planet
Dive into Animal Planet.com's ultimate guide to Fish. Meet sharks, stingrays, eels, piranha and more. Learn amazing facts, see stunning pictures, watch incredible video, explore engaging interactives and much more. What are you waiting for?