Sea Creature of the Week: Earth Day Edition

Apr 16 2012

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Also known as the Northern Bluefin Tuna, the Giant Bluefin Tuna, or better yet, “tunny”, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna grows to enormous sizes, has incredible physical features, and is a highly-prized over-fished species. The Bluefin Tuna is endangered and needs your help to survive! Stay posted for our upcoming Earth Day campaign for information on how you can help prevent overfishing!

Scientific Name: Thunnus thynnus

Home: A warm blooded fish, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna enjoys the cold waters of Newfoundland and Iceland, as well as the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea. 

It is an avid migratory fish and has been tracked swimming from North America to Europe numerous times throughout the year. The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna has become extinct in the Black Sea.

Physical Characteristics: The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is highly evolved and resembles a robotic fish. It has a torpedo-shaped body and crescent-shaped tail enabling it to shoot through waters at speeds up to 43 miles per hour.

The Bluefin Tuna retracts its dorsal and pectoral fins into slots to reduce drag; The finlets on their tails are believed to reduce water turbulence! They are beautifully colored- shimmery blue on top and grey on bottom, which camouflages it from all sides. The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is enormous and can surpass the average size of 6.5 feet in length and 550 lbs!

Food: The Bluefin Tuna reaches its large size by constantly eating! Their diet includes smaller fish and invertebrates such as crustaceans, squid, eels, sardines, herrings, and mackerel. They filter-feed on small organisms such as zooplankton and also enjoy eating kelp.

Conservation Status: Despite their unique physical features, incredible speed and strength, the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is endangered. It has been a prized food fish since the time of the Ancient Greeks and Phoenicians. 

In the 1970′s, demand for Bluefin tuna soared world-wide, particularly in Japan where tuna is very popular in the raw fish market. High demand accompanied with unsustainable fishing practices has led to the dramatic decline in Bluefin Tuna populations.

In October of 2009, The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) stated that Atlantic Bluefin Tuna populations have declined by 72% in the Eastern Atlantic and 82% in the Western Atlantic over the past 40 years. In 2010, European officials increased pressure to ban international commercial fishing of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. Despite these efforts, illegal fishing in Europe has caused the Bluefin Tuna to reach near extinction in European waters.

Fun Facts:
The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is warm blooded, which is a rare trait for fish to have! They have the ability to thermoregulate, adjusting their body temperatures to warm or cold waters.

The largest tuna ever recorded was an Atlantic Bluefin Tuna caught in the waters of Nova Scotia that weighed 1,496 lbs!!!

The female Bluefin Tuna can lay up to 30 million eggs!!

In January 2012, a 593 lb Bluefin Tuna sold in the Japanese fish market for $736,000- a world record!!











Leave a Reply