Mackerel Heaven

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by Johnny Hamilton

As of late there has been no need to set the alarm clocks on board Embarr as we have consistently been awoken by the sounds of a soft pitter-patter knocking on her sturdy steel keel. Dreamy thoughts of mermaids soon give way to the delicous reality of shoals of mackerel  hopping off Embarrs sides. Racing to the deck I find Graham wide awake and literally filling buckets with the flopping and flapping mackerel. Its a time of mackerel overdose.

The Atlantic is yielding up a truely sumptuous harvest at the moment. Mackerel with
salad, mackerel with new potatoes, mackerel with freshly baked soda bread, mackerel with Murphys, mackerel with mackerel. Kinsale harbour is boiling with the fishes and seemingly at all times of the day. With a few meters of visibility in the water its a sight to behold to sse them chasing sprat and then unluckily for them chasing our hooks.
There are over 30 different species of mackerel worldwide, found in waters from Chile to Cape Cod to Cork. Belonging to the family Scombridae the term mackerel means ‘marked’ or ‘spotted’ and is thought to come from the old french word, macquerel,  meaning a pimp or procurer. The Atlantic mackerel gracing our plates can grow to lengths of 70cm reaching a maximum age of 18 years. They spawn in large schools in shallow coastal waters, typically in areas of upwelling where nourishment is high.

Like their close cousin the Tuna, mackerel are strong swimmers and are built for speed having been recorded reaching burst speeds of up to 5.5 m/s. It is still not fast enough to evade our catch as they fall prey to our white/silver hooks mistaking them for the shoals of sprat. Such high consistent numbers of mackerel along our shores at the moment are surely testiment to the overall healthiness of the waters of the Southern Irish coastline. Long may it continue. All we need now are more creative ideas for our dinner table,  all suggestions are gladly received.

Follow the link to mackerel heaven,  filmed off Embarr in Kinsale harbour. http://youtu.be/ljzxOAd7YNI

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