The golden trevally resides in tropical and subtropical waters of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Its range extends from the east coast of Africa to the west coast of North and South America. It’s found along the southern coast of Asia and the northern coast of Australia, as well as many islands, such as Hawaii, Easter Island, Guam, and Madagascar.
According to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the golden trevally has used the Panama Canal to enter the waters east of the American continents.
The scientific name of the Golden Trevally is Gnathanodon speciosus (Forsskål, 1775). It is the only species in the genus Gnathanodon.
Peter Forsskål was a student of Linnaeus. His name appears in the scientific name because he deserves partial credit for naming this species. However, Forsskål is put in parentheses because only the specific name that he suggested appears in the current scientific name, while the genus name that he suggested was later changed. Forsskål originally called the species Scomber speciosus.
Gnathanodon speciosus belongs to Carangidae, the jack family, and the order Perciformes. Since it is a bony fish, it is sometimes put into a class named Osteichthyes. Since it has ray fins, its class is sometimes called Actinopterygii.
In addition to golden trevally, this species has many other common names in English. It is called the banded trevally, yellow jack, golden kingfish, etc.
In the Philippines, this is one of the many carangid fish that are commonly called talakitok in one or more Philippine dialects.
This species is notable for its color, especially when the fish is young. According to Fishbase, young fish are “bright yellow to silvery with broad and narrow [vertical] black bars alternating.” Older specimens are “generally silvery gray with a few black blotches or spots on the side and faint black bars.”
According to Arkive, the fins are yellow, and the deeply forked tail is tipped with black.
Like many carangids, the golden trevally has two dorsal fins. The anterior dorsal fin has seven spines. The posterior dorsal fin has one spine followed by eighteen to twenty soft rays. There are also two anal fins. The anterior anal fin has only two spines. The posterior anal fin has one spine plus fifteen to seventeen soft rays.
According to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , the lateral line is moderately arched. Seventeen to twenty-four scales are associated with the straight part of the lateral line, followed by 17 to 26 scutes.
The teeth are weak in juvenile specimens and absent in adults.
According to Fishbase , their maximum length seems to be 120 centimeters.
According to Fishbase , adult golden trevallies are typically found in deep lagoons and seaward reefs, where the feed on crustaceans and burrowing invertebrates. They supplement their diet with small fish. In addition, they tend to congregate in schools. At times, they follow sharks and other large fish, something like the pilotfish. Juveniles take refuge in the tentacles of jellyfish.