What is a yellowfin tuna ?

August 1, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Tuna information

yellowfin tuna
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Yellowfin tuna are one of the nearly  50 species of tuna

Yellowfin tuna are found in both the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans and the Gulf Of Mexico. The scientific name is Thunnus albacares, and are commonly called yellowfin, ahi, or Allison tuna.

They are torpedo shaped fish, metallic dark blue on the back and upper side, and yellow to silver on the body. There may be a yellow or blue strip often shows up from the eye to the tail.Dorsal and anal fins and finlets are yellow but other tuna like bigeye also have yellow in the fins. There may be up to 20 vertical rows of white spots.The second dorsal fin and the anal fin are very long. The pectoral fin reaches to the second dorsal fin, which distinguishes it from a bluefin, where the pectoral fin does not reach the second dorsal fin.

yellowfin tunaThey are large and often mistakenly identified as bigeye by fisherman when they are large. Largest Atlantic yellowfins run around 400lbs and Pacific yellowfins could reach 440lbs. IGFA lists the all tackle world record for yellowfin as 427lbs. It was caught in Cabo San Lucas by Guy Yocum in 2012. The fish was 88″ long.


What they eat depends on what is available locally, including mackerel, flying fish anchovies ,squid and even crustaceans  Fishing at night in the New Jersey canyons, we often found yellowfin around the schools of squid. Tuna have excellent sight , but also can track down prey by small.


Yellowfin prefer warm water, either tropical or subtropical. In the northern areas yellowfin are found in the offshore canyons and deeper inshore waters. Usually water temperatures over 70 degrees are needed. Tuna are migratory fish. They often will travel miles to feed and then return to the same general area day after day.

Most yellowfin tuna spawn at 2 or 3 years of age , but some may spawn earlier. They usually spawn when water temperatures exceed 78 degrees and may lay 8 million eggs. Fish are usually cold blooded but tuna seem to be able to maintain a body temperature above the water temperature. This increases both their endurance, but also their speed.

Tuna have an aerodynamic shape and the little keels near the tail fin reduce drag caused by water turbulence. Their hearts are 10 times larger than other fish of the same weight, they pump 3x more blood and blood pressure 3x higher.  The large amounts of red muscle allow them to swim at 28mph for long periods, Their gills are 30x larger than other fish, but they cannot open or close them. That means that they must swim and have their mouth open  or suffocate.

As a food

Yellowfins have a red meat but not as dark as a bluefin. Tuna are often used as sushi and sashimi. Many restaurants use yellowfin for sushi, but bluefin is the preferred fish.  Most people prefer their tuna rare or medium rare. Grilling is one of the best methods of cooking tuna. There are many marinades and rubs that can be used on tuna. Tuna usually is cooked 3 or 4 minutes a side at the most.



World fishing network

Sea Grant LSU


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