The bigeye tuna, unlike other tunas, is a large, fast-swimming species with a metallic-colored, streamlined body. This species is dark metallic blue on the back and upper sides with white lower sides and belly. The first dorsal fin is deep yellow, the second dorsal and anal find are pale yellow, and the finlets are bright yellow with black edges. Although most of the tunas are difficult to distinguish, the bigeye tuna may be recognized by a combination of severa characteristics: the coloration of the finlets, the 23 to 31 gill rakers on the first arch, a prominenet lateral keel on the caudal peduncle located between two smaller ones and a liver with a striated ventral surface.
Bigeye tuna is a migratory oceanic pelagic species found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans in warmer temperature waters of 55-84 degrees Fahrenheit. In the western Atlantic, they can be found from Massechusetts to Argentina, including the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Bugeye tuna can range in length from 20-73 inches, and may live longer than 9 years. They may spawn throughout the year in schools, with females laying from 2.9 million to more than 6 million ova. This species feeds at night and during the day on fishes, squid, and crustaceans found from the surface to a depth of 500 feet, favoring shrimp, Mackerel and other small tuna.
South Atlantic Federal Regulations
(For areas three-200 miles off the coasts of NC, SC, GA, and East Florida)
Bigeye tuna are managed by the Highly Migratory Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service in Silver Spring, MD. For more information on federal regulations for Highly Migratory Species (sharks, swordfish, billfish & tunas) call the HMS Automated toll free line at: 1-800/894-5528 or contact NMFS at (301) 713-2347.
Information regarding tuna permits can be obtained by calling the NMFS Permits and Landings Report System at 1-888/872-TUNA (8862) or at www.nmfspermits.com.