Gi­ant king­fish Caranx ig­no­bilis

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Gi­ant king­fish, com­monly re­ferred to as GTs, are found through­out the In­dian and Pa­cific Oceans, from South Africa to Fiji to Ja­pan to the Red Sea. They are vo­ra­cious preda­tors.

Though pri­mar­ily a sport­fish in South Africa, Aus­tralia, and the US, GTs are har­vested for com­mer­cial and smallscale fish­eries through­out much of their range. Gi­ant king­fish range from a sil­ver colour to dark black, of­ten with sub­tle dark spots on their dor­sal re­gion. Adults have a dis­tinctly blunt head. Size and bi­ol­ogy Gi­ant king­fish ma­ture at ap­prox­i­mately 60 cm, equat­ing to 3–4 years of age. On av­er­age they reach up to 70 kg and 170 cm, with an es­ti­mated life­span of over 10 years.

Adults are very ter­ri­to­rial and are usu­ally soli­tary, al­though they ag­gre­gate in groups of var­i­ous sizes dur­ing the sum­mer months to spawn and have been known to form hunt­ing packs.

Habi­tat Gi­ant king­fish pre­fer tem­per­ate and trop­i­cal marine wa­ters, but ju­ve­niles are of­ten found in es­tu­ar­ies that are bor­der­line fresh­wa­ter. Their marine habi­tat con­sists of mostly shal­low wa­ters en­com­pass­ing coral and rocky reefs, iso­lated atolls, and both coralline and granitic is­lands.

Diet Gi­ant king­fish are known to eat a mix­ture of fish, cephalopods, crus­taceans and other ben­thic in­ver­te­brates. Their diet ap­pears to be vari­able from place to place.

That’s a record The world’s big­gest gi­ant king­fish was 72 kg and caught in Ja­pan in 2006. The South African record is 56 kg.

SASSI sta­tus None. An­glers may only tar­get king­fish recre­ation­ally in South Africa. Re­ports of high lev­els of the ciguat­era toxin make GTs po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous to eat. To en­sure we keep our king­fish stocks healthy, al­ways prac­tice catch-and-re­lease!

Text Jes­sica Glass Sketch Elaine Heem­stra © South African In­sti­tute for Aquatic Bio­di­ver­sity (SAIAB)

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