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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Yellowfin Tuna

Marine Fisheries

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Yellowfin TunaYellowfin Tuna

Thunnus albacares

AKA: yellowfin

Description: Yellowfin tuna are torpedo-shaped fish that are a metallic dark blue on the back and upper sides with a yellow belly that changes to silver. The dorsal and anal fins, and finlets are bright yellow. It has elongated anal and dorsal fins.
 
Size: Yellowfin tuna grow to 400 pounds. Citations are given for fish weighing 70 pounds or more.

Sometimes confused with: bigeye tuna, blackfin tuna, albacore

Habitat: In the western Atlantic, yellowfin tuna are found from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. They cover enormous distances around the globe and all stocks mingle. Yellowfin tuna often school with other species of the same size. They are frequently found schooling below drifting objects such as logs, grass and debris.

Eating habits: Yellowfin feed in open ocean waters on fishes and invertebrates associated with seaweed called Sargassum. They eat larval crabs, shrimp, squids, filefish, triggerfish and jacks.

Life cycle: Spawning takes place at sea year round but is most frequent in the summer. The age of sexual maturity varies by region, but most fish are capable of reproduction at the age of 2 or 3 years.

Fishing tips: Sport fishermen catch yellowfin tuna by trolling brightly colored lures with ballyhoo at high speeds. North Carolina anglers land more pounds of yellowfin tuna than anglers in any other state in the nation. It is the primary species supporting the offshore charter fleet.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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