SKIPJACK TUNA - Katsuwonus pelamis Family Scombridae, MACKERELS AND TUNAS
Description: The body color above is dark blue or purple, while the belly and lower sides are silvery
and have 4 to 6 dark but broken lines running the length of the body. These stripes along the belly distinguish this tuna
from other scrombrids living in the same waters. Like other tunas, the skipjack tuna has a fusiform
body shape. Skipjacks have a tendency to school, often under drifting
objects or marine mammals. Skipjacks exhibit many types of schooling
behavior, sometimes schooling with drifting objects, sharks, or whales.
They may swim slowly in circular paths or travel in a single direction.
These schools may consist only of skipjack, or other tuna species may be
present. Skipjack often divide into schools based upon their size. This
may be because the smaller fish cannot maintain the same top speeds of
larger fish. Small fish may school while feeding, whereas larger fish
(greater than 8 inches) tend to feed alone.
Distribution: Skipjack Tuna are found in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate waters of all oceans. In the western Atlantic, skipjack is found from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Size: Skipjack tuna commonly grow to a length of 32 inches, and a weight of 7-22 pounds.
Where found: OFFSHORE. Skipjack tuna are a pelagic species, which means they mostly live in the open ocean, although they may spend part of their life in nearshore waters. They can be found in surface waters and to depths of 850 feet during the day and generally stay near the surface at night. Schools of skipjack tuna tend to be found near convergence zones, boundaries between cold and warm water, upwelling areas, and other hydrographical discontinuities.
Feeding Habits: Skipjack tuna are opportunistic feeders, preying on fishes, crustaceans, cephalopods, and mollusks. Cannibalism is also common.