Pleistocene Amberjack (Seriola dumerili)

I watched Food Paradise with my wife the other night, and we heard the chef of a restaurant in Florida say grilled amberjack was the house specialty. My wife asked what an amberjack was, and I told her it was a fish. She knew that, but she wanted to know what kind of fish an amberjack was.  This blog article is for her.

The greater amberjack is a large predatory fish found in warm ocean waters around the world.  They swim in schools located 60-200 feet deep, but they prefer coastal waters studded with manmade and natural structures such as shipwrecks and rocky outcrops.  Amberjack migrate to those structures to spawn, so their small offspring can hide in the crevices from larger fish.  Greater amberjacks reach a length of 6 feet long and can weigh up to 40 pounds, and they prey upon fish, squid and crustaceans.  During summer they expand their range north, and some populations migrate toward shore.

Greater Amberjack | NOAA Fisheries

Greater amberjack.

Amberjack Fish Culinary Profile - Chefs Resources

Greater Amberjack range map. They prefer deep waters near the coast.

As far as I can determine, not a single fossil specimen of amberjack has ever been found.  None are listed on the paleobiology database.  However, amberjack are a deep water fish and potential fossil locations are likely inaccessible.  Amberjacks belong to the Carangidae family which includes jacks and pompano, and they’ve existed for millions of years.  Genetic evidence suggests amberjacks from the Atlantic colonized the Mediterranean Sea during the Late Pleistocene after an existing population there had already split into 2 clades.  The population of amberjacks in the North Atlantic recently diverged from the population in the Gulf of Mexico.  Closure of the ancient Tethys Sea, and the rise of the Isthmus of Panama caused speciation in the Seriola genus.

Amberjack Recipes - Florida Go Fishing

Grilled amberjack. Some specimens of amberjack can be toxic.

Amberjack living in tropical waters can accumulate toxins in their flesh by eating smaller reef fish that have been exposed to dinoflagellates responsible for red tides. 

Fish is my favorite food to charcoal grill.  I think fish flesh absorbs the charcoal grill flavor better than any other protein.

References:

Bobie T. ; et. al.

“Two Seas, Two Lineages: How Genetic Diversity is structured in Atlantic and Mediterranean Greater Amberjack Seriola dumerili: Russ 1810 (Perciformis, Carangidae)”

Fisheries Research

Swart, Belinda

“The Evolutionary History of the Genus Seriola, the Phylogeography and Genetic Diversity of S. Lalandi (Yellowtail) Across its Distribution Range”

PHD Thesis Stellenbosch University 2014

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One Response to “Pleistocene Amberjack (Seriola dumerili)”

  1. Tammy Hunt Says:

    Oh, I had not thought of Amberjack in years! I worked in fine dining for many years and it was one of the fish specials that would rotate through. Great fish indeed and yes, grilling is highly recommended! Thank you!

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