Gulf Sierra, Monterey Spanish Mackerel
Carite de Monterey, Carite Sierra
(Scomberomorus concolor)

Gulf Sierra, Scomberomorus concolor: The Gulf Sierra or Monterey Spanish Mackerel is one of the rarest members of the Scombridae or Tuna, Bonito, and Mackerel Family found in Mexican waters.

The Gulf Sierra is characterized by its elongated body with short snout. Males are metallic blue on the flanks with a white belly and no bars, stripes, or spots. Females are somewhat more colored (as pictured below) with a series of smaller brown spots on their flanks. The Gulf Sierra has 6 to 9 finlets between the second dorsal fin and the caudal fin, and between the anal fin and the caudal fin, and two small keels separated by a third larger keel.

This species might be confused with the Pacific Sierra, Scomberomorus sierra (which has medium-sized yellow spots on its flanks).

This is a coastal pelagic schooling species that is currently believed to be present only in the north half of Mexico's Sea of Cortez having become extinct in other waters and it is considered to be an endangered species. It was once an important commercial fish off the U.S. Pacific coast. The Gulf Sierra is normally found in the first 50 feet of the water column. It is reported to reach a length of three feet and 10 pounds. It has a set of horrific teeth and only those most skilled in the art of fishing can catch them without the use of a wire leader.

Note: an effort to introduce the Gulf Sierra to the Salton Sea in California in 1950 via a transplant from San Felipe failed.

Gulf Sierra Photo 1

Gulf Sierra, Monterey Spanish Mackerel, Scomberomorous concolor: Caught during fishing by Jim Mori, at San Lucas Cove at San Bruno, near Santa Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico, March 1994. The only time I've ever seen anything like this at San Lucas Cove. It fits the description in "Fishes of the Pacific Coast" by Gar Goodson: "...females have two alternating rows of brown spots on the side." They stayed around for most of a week. I have not seen anything like it since. A strange situation with the Gulf Sierra at San Lucas Cove in mid-March of 1994. They were schooled up just off shore and about a mile north of San Bruno and were closely associated with a "red tide." The water outside of the "red tide" fingers was in the low 60s. Inside the "red tide" water, it was in the 70s. The fish stayed around for about 4 days and then moved away with the red water. It is the only time I have ever seen them and I have spent two months a year there for 15 years. Description and photo courtesy Jim Mori.

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