Sunday, December 5, 2010

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna is found in the areas of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. They are reach absolutely gigantic sizes, with specimens easily reaching six feet in lengths and weighing upwards of 550lbs. Even larger individuals are not uncommon. They largest ever caught weighed in at nearly 1,500 lbs! They achieve those sizes because of their voracious appetites. They will eat smaller fish, crustaceans, cephalopods, and even plankton and kelp.

(Image Source)
Atlantic Bluefins have a striking color pattern, with a metallic blue on their top side, and a whiter shade underneath. This serves to camouflage them from both directions. They swim in large schools, oftentimes intermingling with other fish species that are of a similar size. Their bodies are built for both speed and endurance, and they can reach speeds of 60mph while chasing prey.

One of the most interesting tidbits about this fish is that it is actually warmblooded, a trait that is rather rare among fish species. This allows them to move quite comfortably between cold feeding waters and much warmer spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea.. Atlantic Bluefins are a highly migratory species, and can travel the length of the ocean multiple times yearly.

Human fishing since the 1970s has most notably caused a decline in the species. Commercial fishing has greatly reduced the number of fish, and now conservation efforts are being made to keep the species from going extinct in certain areas of its range. The fish are especially popular in Japan, selling for tens of thousands of dollars per animal. The most ever paid for one of these giants was $180,000.

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