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Little Tunny Euthynnus alletteratus


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Little Tunny
credit: Robbie Cada

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Alternate name: Little Tuna/Bonita

Family: Scombridae, Mackerels view all from this family

Description The little tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus) is the most common tuna in the Atlantic Ocean. It is found in warm temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean; in the western Atlantic, it ranges from Brazil to the New England states. It is found regularly in offshore and inshore waters, and is classified as a highly migratory species by UNCLOS. Occurring in large schools and weighing up to 36 pounds, it is the smallest member of the tuna Scombridae family, and is one of the finest small game-fish in the Atlantic.

Commonly called "false albacore" or "albie", it resembles the Atlantic bonito, skipjack tuna and species of mackerel. The little tunny feeds primarily on pelagic fish. It is best identified by the dark spots appearing between its pectoral and ventral fins and "worm-like" markings on its back. Commercially, the fish is used as bait for sharks and marlin due to its high oil content and hook retention. It is considered by many to be a trash fish because of its limited nutritional value; there have even been reports of ciguatera poisoning related to its consumption. However, the little tunny is commercially important in many locations including the West Indies. It is marketed fresh, dried, canned, smoked, and frozen. It is sought after as a sport fish due to its line stripping 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) runs and hard fighting ability when hooked. By trolling with lures near reefs, it can be caught on hook and line.

Dimensions Up to 4' (1.2 m); 27 lbs (12.2 kg).

Habitat Open ocean, Ocean or bay shallows.

Range New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Florida, Texas.