Escolar

Lepidocybium flavobrunneum

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The Science

Escolar’s large eyes cause them to have extremely high optical sensitivity and thrive in the deep dark waters [2]

The Fishery

Found in warm waters and is an incidental catch of the tuna fishing industry [1,5]

The Seafood

Approximately 20% of escolar’s body weight contains indigestible waxy esters, which can have a laxative and purgative effect on those that eat large quantity of this fish [1]

The Science

seafoodsource.com

Taxonomic description

  • Large predatory fish reaching lengths of 2 meters (6 ft.) long [2], average weight 20-45 kg (44- 99 lbs.) [13]
  • Large eyes adapted to the dark, deep sea with banked retinae comprised of 6-8 layers of rods to increase capacity to absorb light [2]
  • Dark brown, grey, and black body color helps it to stay camouflaged in the mesopelgic light [2]
  • Lower jaw slightly projects beyond the upper – 2 pairs of fang-like teeth in the upper jaw [12]

Distribution

  • Worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas [1, 3]

Life history

  • Reaches sexual maturity at 30-35 cm (11-14) [5]
  • Peak catches in May and November indicate possible birth and feeding times [9]
  • May endure long migrations to feeding/reproductive areas but these activities are poorly understood [14]
  • Lifespan likely extends beyond 11 years [14]

Habitat

  • Lives in cold depths over 200 meters (656 ft.) during the day and migrates to the surface in tropical warm waters during the night [2]
  • Mainly caught in nearshore waters that have bottom ridges, steep drop-offs, or ledge features [1,14]
  • Likely slow moving, sit-and-wait predators that eat squid, crustaceans, and fishes (bramids, coryphaenids, scombrids, and trachipterids) [2,3,14]

The Fishery

fish.gov.au

Seasonal availability

  • Available year round [7]

Managing authority

  • NOAA Fisheries and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council along with a collaboration between U.S and foreign management oversee highly migratory fishery species including escolar [13]
  • Managed under the Federal Highly Migratory Species Fisheries Management Plan for the U.S west coast [13]

Gear type

  • Pelagic Long line Fishery used in tropical and Pacific ocean but is prohibited within 200 miles of the U.S coast [5]
  • Circle hooks [3], purse seine and observers are often used [17]

Status of the fishery

  • No specific fishery at the national or international level [5], incidentally caught with tuna [1,5,9], so little information on the species and stocks [5,14], although populations are thought to fluctuate [3].
  • In the south Atlantic Ocean a decline in mean avg. weight suggests commercial fishing may be decreasing population [15] but status of escolar appear to be stable elsewhere, suggesting no overfishing or other major threats [1,3]

Potential ecosystem impacts

  • Preference for nearshore deep waters may increase likelihood of incidental capture with tuna and other migrating species [9, 14]

The Seafood

santamonicaseafood.com

Edible portions

  • Dorsal loin muscle [10]

Description of meat

  • Silky, soft white meat that is rich in flavor and fiber; approximately 66% moisture content [8,11]                                        

Culinary uses

  • Obtained fresh with skin off or on, whole or fillets; Should be eaten fresh within 2 days; If frozen should be eaten on the day it is thawed [11]
  • Cooking methods: bake, broil, grill, poach, sauté, steam, and raw [11]
  • Commonly used at sushi restaurants as sashimi or in rolls; also can be eaten as a fillet but not usually prepared in rich creams because of its high fat content [11]

Nutritional information 

  • Approx. 20% of escolar’s body weight contains indigestible wax esters which cause laxative/purgative qualities [1,10]
  • High in energy due to the high fat content in muscles [10]
  • Flesh protein content is 18% and carbohydrate content is 11% [8,17]

 Toxicity report

  • Histamine poisoning risk due to histidine in muscles [1]
  • US FDA co-manages the health risks surrounding the escolar, market checks for histamine levels [1]
  • Banned in several countries; where legal, consumers are recommended to eat a maximum 6 oz. (170 grams) at a time [3]
  • Possibly fraudulently sold under other fish’s names such as Tuna, Sea Bass, Oilfish, Cod, etc. [3]

Seasonal availability

  • Year round [7]

References

[1] Hwang, C-C. L. Chia-Min, Lin., H. Chun-Yung,,H.  Ya-Ling, K. Fang-Chin, H. Deng-Fwu., and T. Yung-Hsian., 2012. Chemical characterization, biogenic amines contents, and identification of fish species in cod and escolar steaks, and salted escolar roe products. Food Control. Volume 1. 415-420.

[2] Landgren, E., K. Fritsches., R. Brill, E. Warrant. 2014. The visual ecology of a deep-sea fish, the escolar Lepidocybium flavobrunneum. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Volume 369. 1-12.

[3] Smith-Vaniz, W.F., J. Williams, F. Pina Amargos, F., M. Curtis & L. Grijalba Bendeck, L. 2015. Lepidocybium flavobrunneum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015. Web access.

[4] Cook, C. 2015. Tuna Troubles. Web. https://danasartandscienceblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/drifting_long_line.gif. 29 May, 2017.

[5] Keller, H. R. D.W.  Kerstetter,. 2014. Length–length and length–weight relationships of oilfish (Ruvettus pretiosus), escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum), snake mackerel (Gempylus serpens), and longnose lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox) from the Gulf of Mexico and the western North Atlantic Ocean. Journal of Applied Ichthyology. Volume 30. 241–243.

[6] Raisfeld, Robin and Patronite, Rob, The “It” Fish. Web. http://nymag.com/restaurants/features/16899/ Web. 17 Apr. 2017.

[7] Dr. Theresa Sinicrope Talley. 2014. Seafood Profiles: Commercial species of San Diego.

[8] Suptijah, P., Suseno, S., Hayati, S. , Faradila, R., Nurjanah, Nugraha, R., and Saraswati. 2014. Inventory and Extraction of Taurine from Deep Sea Fishes: Escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum) and Lobster. Czech Journal of Food Sciences. Volume 2. 241-247.

[9] Levesque, Juan Carlos. 2010. Evolving Fisheries: Today’s Bycatch is Tomorrow’s Target Catch   Escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum) Catch in the U.S. Pelagic Longline Fishery.The Open Fish Science Journal 3. 30-41.

[10] Buchtova, H., Dordevic, D., Kocarek, S., and Chomat, P. 2015. Analysis of Chemical and Sensory Parameters in different kinds of escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum) products. Czech Journal of Food Sciences. Volume 4. 346-353.

[11] Professional culinary, Chefs Resources. Escolar Fish Culinary Profile. Web. http://www.chefs-resources.com/seafood/finfish/escolar/.  17 Apr. 2017.

[12] Smith, A. Escolar. Marine Species Identification Portal: Escolar - Lepidocybium flavobrunneum. Web. http://species-identification.org/species.php?species_group=fnam&id=1954.  17 Apr. 2017.

[13] NOAA Fisheries. 2016. Management of HMS in the Pacific Ocean. SWFSC. Web. https://swfsc.noaa.gov/textblock.aspx?Division=FRD&id=21601. 02 May 2017.

[14] Smith-Vaniz, W.F., Williams, J., Pina Amargos, F., Curtis, M. & Grijalba Bendeck, L. 2015. Lepidocybium flavobrunneum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T190287A16510672. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T190287A16510672.en. 28 May 2017.

[15] Levesque, Juan Carlos. 2010. "Menu." Journal: The Open Fish Science Journal 3. 30-41.

[16] http://cdn.playbuzz.com/cdn/514343ef-0648-4b19-9f01-6c1329e4fddf/7fdbd1f5-55db-4813-b7c0-241d477df25b.jpg picture. 

[17] Escolar,Web. Myfitnesspal.com. Accessed: 21 September 2017.