Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares (Bonnaterre 1788)

Other Names: Allison Tuna, Allison's Tuna, Autumn Albacore, Fin Tuna, Longfin Yellowfin Tuna, Pacific Yellow-finned Tuna, Yellowfinned Albacore

A Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares, in the Atlantic Ocean. Source: Al McGlashan / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC by Attribution-NonCommercial


A large metallic dark-bluish tuna with silvery-yellow sides, becoming silvery-white below, often with about 20 broken, vertical white lines on the belly, and bright yellow dorsal fin, dorsal finlets, anal fin and anal finlets bright yellow, the finlets with a black margin.

Video of a Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin Tuna being unloaded at the Sydney Fish Market in 2013.

Cite this page as:
Schultz, S. & Bray, D.J. 2018, Thunnus albacares in Fishes of Australia, accessed 19 Apr 2024,

Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares (Bonnaterre 1788)

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From south-western Western Australia to the Northwest Shelf, and from Cape York, Queensland, and the Coral Sea, to eastern Bass Strait, Victoria, and Tasmania; also at Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean, and Lord Howe Island in the Tasman Sea. The species is absent from the Northern Territory, the Gulf of Carpentaria, Western Victoria and South Australia. Elsewhere Yellowfin Tuna are found worldwide in tropical and sub-tropical waters of all oceans, although absent from the Mediterranean Sea. This pelagic oceanic species mostly inhabits the upper 100 m, although individuals may dive to at least 400 m.


Dorsal fin XI-XIV, 0, 0, 12-16; Anal fin 11-16; Pectoral fin 30-36; Gill rakers 26-34. Second dorsal and anal fins each followed by 7-10 finlets.

Body fusiform, elongate and slightly compressed. Small, conical teeth forming a single series in both jaws. Caudal peduncle with well-developed keel, flanked on each side by a smaller keel. Dorsal fins separated by a narrow space. Second dorsal and anal fin very long, reaching 20% of the fork length in larger fish. Pectoral fins moderately long, reaching beyond the origin of the second dorsal fin, but not beyond the end of its base. Body covered in small scales, corselet of larger scales indistinct. Swim bladder present.


TO about 200 cm Fork Length.


Metallic dark-blue dorsally, silver-yellow on sides, belly silvery. Belly often has around twenty broken, vertical white lines. Dorsal fin, dorsal finlets, anal fin and anal finlets bright yellow, the finlets with a black margin.


Feeds on fishes, cephalopods and crustaceans. The species is strongly associated with oceanic features such as boundary currents which have high concentrations of primary productivity, which in turn attracts dense concentrations of prey.


Individuals usually mature between 70 and 100 cm fork length, and all fish are mature at 120 cm; the smallest mature fish are around 60 cm in length (12 to 15 months old). Larger fish are proportionally more fecund and an individual female weighing 88 kg contained 8.6 million eggs. Spawning occurs year-round in tropical waters, peaking during the summer months.

Larvae are found in tropical and sub-tropical waters all year-round, though levels of occurrence in sub-tropical waters peaks during summer. Yellowfin Tuna grow very quickly and weigh around 5 kg at the end of the first year.


Yellowfin Tuna are one of the most important commercial species throughout the world. Annual catches in Australian waters average around 2000 tonnes. The majority if this catch is from the east coast fishery, with a small proportion being from the west coast fishery. While most catches are from the tuna long-lining fishery, a small amount is taken with ocean haul nets and purse seines. 

The species is a popular gamefish, rated highly for both its fighting ability and the quality of its flesh. Recreational fishers target this species using trolled lures and by "chumming" with pieces of baitfish. Landings in NSW are estimated to range between 50 and 350 tonnes per annum.


Listed as Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Genetic evidence suggests that there is a single genetic stock throughout the Pacific Ocean, although east-west migration patterns have not been observed. The species migrates south during summer, to feed around warm core eddies which provide abundant food, return north as the waters cool.

Adults may occur in schools of thousands of individuals, as well as other tuna species, sharks and dolphins. These schools associate with floating objects, and are targeted commercially in some areas via the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs).

The short term distribution (i.e. days to months) of this species is strongly influenced by thermal boundaries, including thermoclines and oxyclines, or changes in the concentration of dissolved oxygen levels.

Species Citation

Scomber albacares Bonnaterre 1788, Tableau Encyclopédique et Méthodique des trois Règnes de la Nature. Ichthyologie:140, Jamaica.


Schultz, S. & Bray, D.J. 2018


Australian Faunal Directory

Yellowfin Tuna, Thunnus albacares (Bonnaterre 1788)


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Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37441002

Conservation:IUCN Near Threatened

Depth:0-400 m

Fishing:Commercial & sports fish

Habitat:Pelagic, oceanic

Max Size:200 cm FL; 183.7 kg

Species Image Gallery

Species Maps

CAAB distribution map