Albacore, Thunnus alalunga (Bonnaterre 1788)

Other Names: Albacore Tuna, Long-fin Tunny, Long-finned Albacore

Albacore, Thunnus alalunga, from New Zealand. Source: Samantha McPherson / Flickr. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


Albacore are easily distinguished by their extremely long pectoral fins, the longest of any tuna species. Body dark metallic blue above, silvery-white below, with no spots or stripes; first dorsal fin dark yellow, second dorsal and anal fins yellow, caudal fin with a white margin.

Cite this page as:
Schultz, S., Thunnus alalunga in Fishes of Australia, accessed 17 Jun 2024,

Albacore, Thunnus alalunga (Bonnaterre 1788)

More Info


Worldwide in tropical and temperate oceanic waters of all oceans. Found in offshore waters of all Australian states except the Northern Territory, and a common schooling species in southern Australia. Inhabits epipelagic and mesopelagic depths to 380 m, usually in areas with surface waters temperatures ranging between 15.6 to 19.4 degrees C.

This highly migratory species schools with other tunas such as Skipjack and Yellowfin Tuna. Schools may be associated with floating objects including fish aggregating devices (FADs). 


Meristic features: Dorsal fin XI-XIV, 0, 0, 12-16; Anal fin 11-16; Pectoral fin 30-36; Gill rakers 25-31. 

Body fusiform, elongate and slightly compressed. Dorsal fins separated by a narrow space; second dorsal and anal fins each followed by 7-10 finlets. Pectoral fins very long, at least 30% of fork length in fish longer than 50 cm fork length, reaching beyond origin of second dorsal fin; pectoral fins shorter in fish less than 50 cm fork length. Small, conical teeth forming a single series in both jaws. Body covered in small scales, corselet of larger scales indistinct. Caudal peduncle with well-developed keel, flanked on each side by a smaller keel. Swimbladder present but poorly developed.


Metallic blue above, sides and belly white, no dark spots or stripes. Dorsal and anal fins yellow, finlets darker yellow. Live fish have a bright blue lateral band which fades quickly after death.


Juveniles feed on zooplanktonic, mostly crustaceans such as copepods and cladocerans. Adults feed on crustaceans, cephalopods and fishes.


Although the sex ratio of immature Albacore is about 1:1, males dominate the adult fish classes. Females attain maturity at 90 cm fork length (FL), males at  97 cm fork length. Fecundity increases with size and a 20 kg female may produce 2-3 million eggs per spawning season.

Larvae, juveniles and adults prefer different water temperatures and appear to feed at different depths. Juveniles migrate southwards as they grow, only returning to their tropical spawning grounds when ready to reproduce.


This highly prized and important commercial and gamefish is heavily fished throughout much of its range. Commercial catches in Australian waters are between 1000 and 1500 tonnes a year, and most of the catch is canned. Albacore are taken by commercial fishers with long-lines and by trolling. They are also taken in offshore waters by recreational fishers using lures and live-baits.


IUCN Red List: Near Threatened


Like other large tunas, Albacore have a highly evolved and specialised circulatory system that allows them to maintain body temperatures higher than that of the surrounding water.

Species Citation

Scomber alalunga Bonnaterre 1788, Tableau Encyclopédique et Méthodique des trois Règnes de la Nature. Ichthyologie: 139. type locality: Sardinia, Mediterranean Sea.


Schultz, S.

Albacore, Thunnus alalunga (Bonnaterre 1788)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37441005

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

Depth:0-600 m

Fishing:Popular commercial & gamefish

Habitat:Epipelagic, mesopelagic, oceanic

Max Size:150 cm TL; 60.3 kg

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Species Maps

CAAB distribution map