Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range
Marine; pelagic-oceanic; oceanodromous; depth range 0 - 260 m (Ref. 9340), usually 0 - ? m (Ref. 55287). Tropical; 15°C - 30°C (Ref. 168); 63°N - 47°S, 180°W - 180°E
Cosmopolitan in tropical and warm-temperate waters. Not found in the Black Sea. Highly migratory species, Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (Ref. 26139).
Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age
Maturity: Lm 40.0, range 40 - 45 cm
Max length : 110 cm FL male/unsexed; (Ref. 89423); common length : 80.0 cm FL male/unsexed; (Ref. 168); max. published weight: 34.5 kg (Ref. 168); max. reported age: 12 years (Ref. 168)
(total): 14 - 16;
soft rays: 14 - 15;
Vertebrae: 41. This species is distinguished by the following characters: body fusiform, elongate and rounded; teeth small and conical, in a single series; gill rakers on first gill arch numerous, 53-63; D1 XIV-XVI, dorsal fins separated by a small interspace (not larger than eye), the second followed by 7-9 finlets; anal fin followed by 7-8 finlets; pectoral fins short, with 26-27 rays; 2 flaps (interpelvic process) between pelvic fins; body scaleless except for corselet and lateral line; a strong keel on each side of caudal-fin base between 2 smaller keels. Colour of back dark purplish blue, lower sides and belly silvery, with 4-6 very conspicuous longitudinal dark bands which in live specimens may appear as discontinuous lines of dark blotches (Ref. 9684).
Found in offshore waters; larvae restricted to waters with surface temperatures of 15°C to 30°C (Ref. 6390). Exhibit a strong tendency to school in surface waters with birds, drifting objects, sharks, whales and may show a characteristic behavior like jumping, feeding, foaming, etc. Feed on fishes, crustaceans, cephalopods and mollusks; cannibalism is common. Spawn throughout the year in the tropics, eggs released in several portions (Ref. 35388). Eggs and larvae are pelagic (Ref. 6769). Preyed upon by large pelagic fishes (Ref. 6885). Also taken by trolling on light tackle using plugs, spoons, feathers, or strip bait (Ref. 9684). Marketed fresh, frozen or canned (Ref. 9340, 9684 ); also dried-salted and smoked (Ref. 9987).
In tropical waters, reproductively active female skipjack tuna spawn almost daily.
Collette, B.B. and C.E. Nauen, 1983. FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 2. Scombrids of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of tunas, mackerels, bonitos and related species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(2):137 p. (Ref. 168)
IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 123251)
CITES (Ref. 118484)
Threat to humans
Reports of ciguatera poisoning (Ref. 4690)
Fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes
Estimates based on models
Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969
): 13.3 - 29, mean 26.2 °C (based on 8934 cells).
Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805
= 1.0000 [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high].
Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01096 (0.00977 - 0.01231), b=3.11 (3.08 - 3.14), in cm total length, based on LWR estimates for this species (Ref. 93245
Trophic level (Ref. 69278
): 4.4 ±0.5 se; based on diet studies.
Generation time: 2.1 (1.8 - 2.4) years. Estimated as median ln(3)/K based on 56 growth studies.
Resilience (Ref. 120179
): Medium, minimum population doubling time 1.4 - 4.4 years (K=0.3-0.5; tm=2-3; tmax=12; Fec=61,516).
Vulnerability (Ref. 59153
): Moderate vulnerability (38 of 100) .