Built like a torpedo, I race through the water at speeds up to 43 miles per hour. My pectoral (side) fin can retract and my eyes are flush with my body, meaning I am extremely streamlined, which helps with speed and endurance. My shiny metallic coloring, blue on top and white on bottom, is great camouflage and helps me hide from onlookers above and below. However, I am big, which makes me hard to miss! My average size is 6.5 feet long and my average weight is 550 pounds!
Unlike most fish, we are warm-blooded, and are able to generate body heat through our swimming which helps us on long ocean journeys. After decades of overfishing throughout the Atlantic—including illegal fishing—managers are working to help rebuild our populations back to healthy levels. The U.S. works with other countries to set limits on how many of us can be caught throughout the Atlantic, but these have to be followed by everyone in order to be effective! The Gulf of Mexico has an important role to play in our recovery because it is the only known spawning area for the western Atlantic part of our population.
Did You Know?
The word “tuna” originates from the Greek word that means “to rush.” That’s fitting, given my speed! We are warm-blooded fish (which is quite uncommon), allowing us to keep our body temperatures higher than the surrounding waters. This special trait, known as thermoregulation, allows us to live in a wide variety of climates.
We are schooling fish and like to stick together based on size. We use our speed to pursue darting, schooling fish, and swim slowly with open mouths to catch small, slow moving prey. We don’t dive too deep into the water and instead prefer to stay at depths where we can see sunlight. We don’t like to stay in one place for too long—instead, we roam the seas and have even been tracked traveling from the Bahamas to Norway!
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