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Marine sport fish identification key - Tuna and mackerel

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Key to Tunas and mackerels

1.a. Dorsal fins are widely separated. Short pectoral fin. Wavy black bars on dorsal surface - Pacific Mackerel (Scomber japonicus) (64 cm / 25 in) - common species

1.b. Dorsal fins not widely separated - go to 2

2.a. Pectoral fins long (extend past the end of the first dorsal fin) - go to 3

2.b. Pectoral fins short (do not extend to the end of the first dorsal fin) - go to 5

3.a. Pectoral fins very long (extend past second dorsal fin) and are dark in color - Albacore (Thunnus alalunga) (137 cm / 54 in) - primary species

3.b. Pectoral fins do not extend past second dorsal fin and are yellow in color - go to 4

4.a. Second dorsal and anal fins elongate in adults. No striations (lines) on underside of liver - Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares) (1.9 m / 6.5 ft) - rare species

4.b. Second dorsal and anal are not elongate. Striations (lines) on underside of liver - Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) (2.4 m / 8 ft) - rare species

5.a. No dark stripes on body. White dots in lines on belly and up sides - Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus) (1.9 m / 6 ft) - rare species

5.b. Dark stripes along body. No white dots in lines - go to 6

6.a. Four to five horizontal black stripes along sides and belly - Skipjack Tuna (Euthynnus pelamis) - rare species

6.b. Angled black stripes extending from mid-body onto back - Pacific Bonito (Sarda chiliensis) (102 cm / 40 in) - rare species

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Eric Schindler
Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
2040 SE Marine Science Drive
Newport, Oregon 97365
(541) 867-4741


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04/26/2021 10:16 AM