There exist about eight different species of tuna, and yellowfin is among the largest. Tuna species that are mostly found in tropical and subtropical oceans across the world. Their botanic name is Thunnus albacares, which means “white meat”, and some people also call them ahi because of their yellow fins and fillets. The average size of yellowfin tuna varies depending on where they live, but in general, they are large fish.
Yellowfin tuna gets this name from its yellow sickle-shaped tail, anal and dorsal fins and finlets. The fish has a body that is shaped like a torpedo, allowing them to move at a breakneck speed and for long distances as well. They also have other colors, including blue, grey and green on their bodies that make them look very beautiful, and help to blend with their surroundings.
Apart from the color, other things that differentiate yellowfin with other tuna species are the broken vertical lines and a golden blue stripe on the side. An adult one can reach up to 6 feet and weigh more than 300 pounds. The International Game Fish Association (IGAF) records a fish caught in California Mexico, weighed 388 pounds however, there’re other claims for bigger catches.
Distribution and Range
Mostly they’re found in shallow areas of the oceans, but during the day, they tend to move in deeper areas and back to the shallow at night. This species stays close to water surface so that they can access their food resources easily. Yellowfin is often found in Hawaiian Islands of Indian Ocean and is a common tourist attraction due to its color, size and great design. As it stays in shallow water, it’s not hard to see it. It’s also very common in Caribbean Sea and Maldives islands. This tuna species is migratory, and they travel in schools, although their movements will depend on water temperatures and availability of food. They also travel with other animals of the same size such as manta rays, dolphins and whales, among others.
Yellowfin tuna are loyal fish that protect each other.Mostly, they look for food on top of the water, but when they’re unable to find it, they’ll adapt, by creating diving teams that will take them deep into the water body. Once they’ve found food, they’ll bring it to their regular location. Although they don’t interact as much with other aquatic life, they seem to be able to live in the same space without any issues.
Yellowfin fry is described as zooplankton, which means it feeds on other zooplankton. Feeding intervals aren’t’ that clear, but as it grows it feeds whenever there is food. It’s said that this species has a lot of appetite as they consume so much food and they even eat when full. Adult tunas feed on other fish such as squid and crustaceans. As tuna hunt when there’slight, the fish feed during daylight hours. Thanks to their body shape this fish can swim very fast, up to 50 miles per hour. So, it’s not difficult for them to catch even a fast-moving prey. Their speed also enables them to escape from predators like marlin, toothed whales and white sharks who may want to feed on them.
There aren’t exact dates of spawning. It occurs various times in a year, depending on the locations. However, a yellowfin can travel for long distances to fulfill its mating needs and efforts. At the age of 2 or 3 years, the fish is ready to mate. Female tunas release up to 10 million eggs per season. But only some of them survive to adulthood. Young tunas are mostly consumed by predators as soon as they arrive.
The population of yellowfin is not that low. However, there are some concerns. Recently, this specie was classified as “near threatened” by IUCN. Over fishing is one of the reasons that contribute to the declining population of yellowfins. Other risks include plastic pollution in their habitats as well as increased predation of young ones and a decrease in preys.But since they’re top predators, it’s essential that they survive to contribute to the oceanic food chain.
Interesting Facts about Yellowfin Tuna
• They are warm-blooded
Unlike most fish, yellowfin are warm-blooded. its unique veins and arteries are found near its muscles hence making its blood warm. For this reason, their metabolism is very high, and that gives them strength and fast speeds.
• Their life expectancy is eight years
If a yellowfin survives up to adulthood, it can live up to eight years. Well, that may seem like a short time, but they make up for lack of years on reproduction. Like earlier said, they start reproducing when they’re as young as two years.
• They move their fins using their lymphatic system
A Yellowfin uses its lymph nodes as its hydraulic system to control its anal and dorsal fins during movement.
Yellowfin tuna are interesting species. Today, they’re the most pursued as they are used to prepare amazing cuisines, especially in raw dishes. However, sport anglers from North Carolina, New England and Australia also hunt them as they’re highly prized catch in sport fisheries.