Mackerels / Tunas / Bonitos

The Mackerels, Tunas and Bonitos (Scombridae) is a family belonging to the Perciformes. In general, the Mackerels, Tunas and Bonitos family are marine species (rarely present in fresh waters) distributed throughout all tropical and subtropical seas. They are pelagic species that inhabit waters less than 200 meters deep. Some smaller species inhabit coastal waters, while larger species generally live in the open sea where they can make transoceanic migrations.

With a fusiform and elongated body, some genera may be moderately compressed. They have a pointed snout in which they have a moderately large mouth in a terminal position. Their body is usually covered with small scales. Some members are able to maintain their body temperature within limits, regardless of the ambient temperature, which allows them to be more widely distributed in temperate waters. Mackerels, Tunas and Bonitos are great swimmers, speeds of up to 75 km/h have been recorded in species such as the guaju (Acanthocybium solandri) or the yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares). Following their numbers, and in relation to their length, the range of the different species goes from those that reach 20 cm (Rastrelliger faughni) to over 4 meters in the case of the North Atlantic tuna (Thunnus thynnus) which is able to migrate very long distances, or also the Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) and southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii).

Two well separated dorsal fins are present in the vast majority of Mackerels, Tunas and Bonitos. The first one is usually short, formed by 9-27 radii and is located in a posterior plane to the head of the fish. Both dorsal fins are foldable and can be folded into grooves at the base of the fins, which allows these fishes to improve their hydrodynamics significantly. Between the second dorsal fin and the caudal fin, as well as between the anal fin and the caudal fin, Mackerels, Tunas and Bonitos have accessory fins called 'finlets' whose number can vary between 5 and 12 in each of the regions. The pectoral fins are embedded in the body at a considerably high height. The pelvic fins are formed by 1 spine followed by 5 spokes and are of a moderate to small size, located in a plane behind the pectorals. The caudal fin is very forked and very rigid.

The Mackerels, Tunas and Bonitos are highly valued species in terms of cuisine and are therefore of great importance for commercial fishing. In recreational fishing the Mackerels, Tunas and Bonitos are also highly desired and sought-after species. The family consists of 51 species, which are organized into 15 different genera.


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