Giant kingfish Caranx ignobilis
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)