Hi Dazz, no problem at all. Here's my response.
First, your marine biologist friend won't deny that our 'couta' is Scomberomorus commerson
. That certainly cannot be disputed. So the issue in question is its international common name.
Now of all the many species of large mackerel around the world (and there are many), the two big heavyweights are firstly our commerson
and then no.2 is Scomberomorus cavalla
is the big kahuna whose range extends up the east coast of S.America from Brazil, all the way through the Caribbean and into the S.E. USA (Florida). And cavalla
is the king mackerel.
If you ever fish in the Florida Keys (I have) and if you've ever caught the proper king mackerel (I have - off Fort Lauderdale in '95), you'll see that it looks almost exactly like our couta. The only difference is that it's missing its stripes. And in all those countries where cavalla
roams, I can tell you that millions of people (and their marine biologists too) will all tell you emphatically that the cavalla
is the king mackerel.
In the same region where you find the king mackerel, you also find another cousin of our couta, the Atlantic spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculates). It's about the same size as our snoek, except has large yellow dots on its flanks instead of snoek spots. The Yanks just call this fish "spanish mack".
Back to our couta:
We also know that it's range extends throughout the Indian ocean, across to W.Aus and up into the Arabian gulf. Now if you head north to the Emirates, all the local fishermen there (including their marine biologists) will tell you that the correct common name for commerson
is the Kanad Kingfish. Even the ex-pat Saffa fishermen living in Dubai call it the Kingfish ('Kanad' means 'kingfish' in Arabic). But it's our couta! So whose right?
But wait, what about Australia (arguably the spiritual home of the couta)? Over there they just call it the spanish mackerel (sometimes even the blue mackerel). But they most certainly know it as the narrow barred spanish mack. They have such a variety over there - the shark mackerel, the broad barred spanish mackerel (smaller than the couta, but larger stripes), shool mackerel, spotty mackerel, and grey mackerel. All of these look like our snoek (about the same size) but all have very different colourations. But at least they use the correct name for commerson
Let's not forget our couta's cold water cousin in the Orient - the Japanese spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius).
But I digress; back to the issue at hand:
There's bucket loads of reference to Scomberomorus commerson
(and its international common name of 'narrow barred spanish mackerel') on the web. So I'll leave that up to people to check out for themselves.
I'll just contribute the following links for now:
Wikipedia's contribution on the narrow barred spanish mackerel:
(NB: note the reference to SA being the only country in the world that calls it a king mackerel)
Wikipedia's section on the king mackerel:
The world spearfishing records for our couta (commerson
) and for the king mackerel (cavalla
) can be found here:
(Click on the 'World Records' tab on the left to see the separate records for each species, along with the correct common name for each).