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Similar in general appearance to yellowfin tuna, the bigeye may be recognized by its plump body, its larger head and its unusually large eyes. Adult bigeye tuna are the deepest occurring of all tuna species, with the depth range of greatest concentration at 150 to 250 fathoms. Caught in deeper, cooler water, bigeye tuna typically have a higher fat content than yellowfin and is preferred over yellowfin by more discriminating sashimi buyers who are willing to pay more.
Yellowfin Tuna have a sleek, rounded, streamlined body, tapering to a narrow junction with a widely forked tail. The pectoral fins fold into grooves on the body. Yellowfin Tuna are glistening blue above and gray spotted with silver below and resemble the mackerel in general structure. Yellowfin Tuna can be found in both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean and are the mainstay of the charter fishermen in this area.
The Bluefin tuna is the largest of tuna which can weigh from 300 to 500 pounds and sometimes as much as 1500 lbs. The bluefin tuna is a mighty ocean predator which feeds on schools of mackerel and squid. They are aggressive, and one of the fastest ocean swimmers in the world. They often travel in speed bursts of up to 70 km/hr (44 miles/hr) during their migrations over thousands of kilometres of ocean. At these high speeds, the side fins retract into special grooves and the eyes form a smooth surface with the rest of the head in one of the most hydro-dynamically advanced bodies in the sea. Large Atlantic Bluefin tuna can cross the Atlantic ocean from the Caribbean to the North Atlantic in a single season. Even though much research has been done on the Bluefin Tuna, much still remains unknown about these magnificent creatures.
Blues are voracious and not very selective eaters. They will consume most any baitfish presented to them but their preferences are mackerel, squid, dolphin, and tuna. Like the black marlin, the blue's enormous size and legendary fighting ability make it one of the most highly-targeted gamefish in the world. Anglers commonly troll natural baits such as mackerel, tuna, bonito, ballyhoo and dolphin in hopes of enticing one of these giants. Brightly colored lures and teasers are also commonly used. Blue marlin anglers will look for temperature breaks in the water and follow large concentrations of baitfish.
These are the smallest and lightest colored of the marlin family. They will show some green and may also appear deep brown. The lateral line is clearly visible and runs straight from the tail along the center of the body, becoming curved beneath the dorsal fin. Whites are often confused with striped marlin, but the difference can be seen in the pectoral fins. The white marlin's fins have rounded tips whereas the striper's are pointed. Like other marlin, this is a highly migratory species. They will reach the higher latitudes of their range with seasonally warmer temperatures. They will travel alone or in small groups to increase their feeding opportunities. While white marlin typically roam deep waters, they will also approach areas that are normally too shallow for other marlin. They are often seen in areas less than 8 fathoms deep. White marlin will feed on whatever baitfish available to them. Some common favorites include squid, herring, and sardines. Groups of whites have been seen coordinating their efforts to congregate bait into a ball for feeding purposes.
These are the easiest of all the billfish to identify. Their tall, arching dorsal fin is filled with blood vessels and is used to regulate the fish's body temperature. Its back and dorsal fin are dark blue, sides are silver, and belly is white. The visible lateral line runs from the tail to gill plate. The bill is usually twice the length of the fish's lower jaw. Sailfish will migrate in deep, warm waters, but they're known to move near shore for feeding. Sailfish eat squid, octopus, mackerel, mullet, flyingfish, needlefish, and other small fish. Although they travel in deep water, they will usually feed in mid-depths. Given the proper bait population, sailfish can exhibit the same group hunting characteristics as white marlin.
The dolphin is perhaps the most beautifully colored of all saltwater fishes. Unfortunately, the bright turquoise, green and yellow patterns fade almost immediately upon death. The male's profile will have a very tall, blunt head. Females will be much mure streamlined. Dolphin seem to be attracted to floating objects in offshore waters. Boards, rope and other debris will likely hold dolphin. Off the southeastern United States they frequently congregate around sargassum, a brown alga, which serves as a hiding place and a source of food.
The color of the fish is steel blue above and pale blue below the lateral line. There is a series of 25 to 30 irregular, blackish-blue, vertical bars on the sides. The stripes are less noticable in larger specimens, but may become more prominent when the fish becomes excited. A distinguishing characteristic is is the toothy, movable upper jaw. Also, gill rakers are absent in this species. They are open-water pelagics commonly found near flotsam, wrecks, banks and pinacles. Wahoo are migratory fish that are occaisionally found in loose groups of 2 to 7, however they will never school. Trolling for wahoo has long been a favorite sport (both for sport and recreation) in the Caribbean, off Bermuda, and in the Gulf of Mexico. In this area, boats troll at 6 to 10 knots per hour over water 240- to 300-feet deep during the summer and early fall. Productive fishing areas are often in the vicinity of floating sargassum.
The shortfin has a very streamlined body. Its back is cobalt blue and its belly is white. The dorsal fin starts just behind the base of the pectoral fin. The shortfin's teeth differ from other sharks; they are curved and slender, lacking serations and cusps. The shortfin mako is oceanic and is distributed in the western Atlantic from Cape Cod to Argentina. The species is very common in the Caribbean, but is rarely caught off Bermuda. Exceeding 1,000 pounds in weight and 13 feet in length, the shortfin mako is a very large predator. There is very little information available on this species' life patterns. Scientists believe that shortfin makos must be at least 600 pounds before they are sexually mature. Considering the commercial and recreational pressure, this makes reproduction nearly imposssible.
The body of the fish is iron-gray or green along the back, silvery on the sides and white on the belly. The fins are pale to dusky. A small king's sides may have spots similar to Spanish mackerel, but they may be distinguished by their lateral line which dips sharply. Also, the anterior portion of the primary dorsal fin is clear, rather than black, as in a Spanish. King mackerel are caught as far north as the Gulf of Maine, but more often from Virginia south to Brazil, including the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Kingfish prefer warm waters. This affinity for warm temperatures and the availability of food result in extensive annual migrations along the southeastern United States, north in the spring, south and fall. They're generally found near reefs, bouys, wrecks, ocean piers and other structure holding baitfish. Kings will hit spoons, plugs and dead baits, but slow-trolling live indigenous baitfish proves most effective for larger fish. With any bait, wire leader helps repel a formidable set of teeth. Sport fishermen troll, cast, and drift fish for kings. Most of the larger fish are caught by trolling live bait, spoons, or diving plugs.