Length - Maximum of approx. 4 – 6 feet
Weight - Maximum of approx. 200 – 450 lbs.
Yellowfin tuna are found throughout the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico. There is also a Pacific population of yellowfin tuna found in the similarly tropical and subtropical waters.
While yellowfin tuna prefer deep offshore waters, they will come closer to land with high water quality and abundant feed. These open ocean predators also congregate around island chains where deep waters are near shore, and forage fish are abundant.
These pelagic carnivores often prey on mackerel, sardines, flying fish, and squid. Larger individuals will feed on smaller tunas like skipjack tuna.
Unlike the giant bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna have a relatively short life span of about 7 years. These short-lived pelagic carnivores reach maturity at the age of 2 or 3. While the spawning season in the Atlantic coincides with the summer season, yellowfin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico spawn from early summer through November. During this time females will spawn twice per week, and will generate up to 5 million eggs. Young yellowfin must avoid predation by larger tuna, blue marlin, and wahoo. Even so, these tuna grow quickly and will soon be near the top of the food chain themselves.
Importance to Fisheries and Aquaculture:
Yellowfin tuna are an important species for both commercial and recreational fishing. Over $10 million in revenue is generated by the commercial sector alone. The recreational sector adds a great deal of economic value to this species through recreational charters, fishing tournaments, and related land-based activities from hotels and restaurants to tackle shops and marinas.
Yellowfin tuna have a similarly advanced circulatory system to the bluefin tuna, and as such these muscular fish can reach sustained speeds of up to 50 mph. There ability to swim at such speeds allows them to evade powerful predators.
The largest yellowfin tuna recorded was caught in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in 2012. This fish weighed in at 427 lb. 0 oz.