FishBase is a global species database of fish species (specifically finfish).[1] It is the largest and most extensively accessed online database on adult finfish on the web.[2] Over time it has "evolved into a dynamic and versatile ecological tool" that is widely cited in scholarly publications.[3][4]

FishBase provides comprehensive species data, including information on taxonomy, geographical distribution, biometrics and morphology, behaviour and habitats, ecology and population dynamics as well as reproductive, metabolic and genetic data. There is access to tools such as trophic pyramids, identification keys, biogeographical modelling and fishery statistics and there are direct species level links to information in other databases such as LarvalBase, GenBank, the IUCN Red List and the Catalog of Fishes.[5]

As of November 2018, FishBase included descriptions of 34,000 species and subspecies, 323,200 common names in almost 300 languages, 58,900 pictures, and references to 55,300 works in the scientific literature. The site has about 700,000 unique visitors per month.[6]

DescriptionA large and extensively accessed biological database about fish
Data types
Comprehensive species data, including taxonomy, biometrics, behaviour, distribution, habitats and photos
OrganismsAdult fish species (finfish)
Research centerLeibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, FishBase Consortium coordinator
AuthorsDaniel Pauly and Rainer Froese
StandaloneHistoric versions available on CD
LicenseCC-BY-NC for data; various levels of licensing for media files (pictures, sounds, ...) to be checked case by case
VersioningEvery even month of the year
Data release
Continuously updated
VersionLast current version: October 2016
Curation policyFishBase Consortium


The origins of FishBase go back to the 1970s, when the fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly found himself struggling to test a hypothesis on how the growing ability of fish was affected by the size of their gills.[7] Hypotheses, such as this one, could be tested only if large amounts of empirical data were available.[8] At the time, fisheries management used analytical models which required estimates for fish growth and mortality.[9] It can be difficult for fishery scientists and managers to get the information they need on the species that concern them, because the relevant facts can be scattered across and buried in numerous journal articles, reports, newsletters and other sources. It can be particularly difficult for people in developing countries who need such information. Pauly believed that the only practical way fisheries managers could access the volume of data they needed was to assemble and consolidate all the data available in the published literature into some central and easily accessed repository.[8][10] Such a database would be particularly useful if the data has also been standardised and validated.[8] This would mean that when scientists or managers need to test a new hypothesis, the available data will already be there in a validated and accessible form, and there will be no need to create a new dataset and then have to validate it.[11]

Pauly recruited Rainer Froese, and the beginnings of a software database along these lines was encoded in 1988. This database, initially confined to tropical fish, became the prototype for FishBase. FishBase was subsequently extended to cover all finfish, and was launched on the Web in August 1996. It is now the largest and most accessed online database for fish in the world.[8] In 1995 the first CD-ROM was released as "FishBase 100". Subsequent CDs have been released annually. The software runs on Microsoft Access which operates only on Microsoft Windows.

FishBase covers adult finfish, but does not detail the early and juvenile stages of fish. In 1999 a complimentary database, called LarvalBase, went online under the supervision of Bernd Ueberschär. It covers ichthyoplankton and the juvenile stage of fishes, with detailed data on fish eggs and larvae, fish identification, as well as data relevant to the rearing of young fish in aquaculture. Given FishBase's success, there was a demand for a database covering forms of aquatic life other than finfish. This resulted, in 2006, in the birth of SeaLifeBase.[8] The long-term goal of SeaLifeBase is to develop an information system modelled on FishBase, but including all forms of aquatic life, both marine and freshwater, apart from the finfish which FishBase specialises in. Altogether, there are about 300,000 known species in this category.[12]

Current organization

As awareness of FishBase has grown among fish specialists, it has attracted over 2,310 contributors and collaborators. Since 2000 FishBase has been supervised by a consortium of nine international institutions. To date, the FishBase consortium has grown to twelve members. The GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR) in Germany, functions as the coordinating body.[13][14]

IFM Geomar
The GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel coordinates the FishBase Consortium[15]
IFM Geomar
The GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel coordinates the FishBase Consortium[15]

See also


  1. ^ Froese R and Pauly D (eds) (2000) FishBase 2000: concepts, design and data sources ICLARM, Philippines.
  2. ^ Marine Fellow: Rainer Froese Pew Environment Group.
  3. ^ Stergiou KI and Tsikliras AC (2006) Scientific impact of FishBase: A citation analysis Archived 8 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine In: Palomares MLD, Stergiou KI and Pauly D (eds.), Fishes in Databases and Ecosystems. UBC Fisheries Centre, Research reports 14(4): 2–6.
  4. ^ References Citing FishBase FishBase. Last modified 5 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  5. ^ Gert B and Snoeks J (2004) "FishBase: encyclopaedia and research tool" Page 48, VLIZ Special Publication 17, Brugge, Belgium.
  6. ^ According to the FishBase web page, accessed November 2018.
  7. ^ Bakun A (2011) "The oxygen constraint" Pages 11–23. In: Villy Christensen and Jay Maclean (Eds.) Ecosystem Approaches to Fisheries: A Global Perspective, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-13022-6.
  8. ^ a b c d e Palomares MLD and Bailly N (2011) "Organizing and disseminating marine biodiversity information: the Fishbase and SeaLifeBase story" Pages 24–46. In: Villy Christensen and Jay Maclean (Eds.) Ecosystem Approaches to Fisheries: A Global Perspective, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-13022-6.
  9. ^ Monro JL (2011) "Assessment of exploited stock of tropical fishes: an overview" Pages 171–188. In: Villy Christensen and Jay Maclean (Eds.) Ecosystem Approaches to Fisheries: A Global Perspective, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-13022-6.
  10. ^ LarvalBase: A Global Information System on Fish Larvae American Fisheries Society, Early Life History Section Newsletter, May 2002, 23(2): 7–9.
  11. ^ Froese R (2011) "The science in FishBase" Pages 47–54. In: Villy Christensen and Jay Maclean (Eds.) Ecosystem Approaches to Fisheries: A Global Perspective, Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-13022-6.
  12. ^ SeaLifeBase – home page Archived 14 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 21 July 2011.
  13. ^ FishBase Home page. Retrieved 28 November 2018
  14. ^ "Ecology, Population Dynamics, and Fisheries: FishBase". IFM-GEOMAR, Kiel. Archived from the original on 24 March 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  15. ^ Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences Archived 7 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine (IFM-GEOMAR). Main web site.
  16. ^ Fishbase and Aristotle University Archived 27 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 5 August 2006.

Further reading

External links


An anchovy is a small, common forage fish of the family Engraulidae. Most species are found in marine waters, but several will enter brackish water and some in South America are restricted to fresh water.The more than 140 species are placed in 17 genera; they are found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Anchovies are usually classified as oily fish.


Caprodon is a small genus of fish belonging to the subfamily Anthiadinae. It contains three species.


Carcharhiniformes, the ground sharks, with over 270 species, are the largest order of sharks. They include a number of common types, such as catsharks, swellsharks, and the sandbar shark.

Members of this order are characterized by the presence of a nictitating membrane over the eye, two dorsal fins, an anal fin, and five gill slits.

The families in the order Carcharhiniformes are expected to be revised; recent DNA studies show that some of the conventional groups are not monophyletic.


Cod is the common name for the demersal fish genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae. Cod is also used as part of the common name for a number of other fish species, and some species suggested to belong to genus Gadus are not called cod (the Alaska pollock).

The two most common species of cod are the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), which lives in the colder waters and deeper sea regions throughout the North Atlantic, and the Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), found in both eastern and western regions of the northern Pacific. Gadus morhua was named by Linnaeus in 1758. (However, G. morhua callarias, a low-salinity, nonmigratory race restricted to parts of the Baltic, was originally described as Gadus callarias by Linnaeus.)

Cod is popular as a food with a mild flavour and a dense, flaky, white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Young Atlantic cod or haddock prepared in strips for cooking is called scrod. In the United Kingdom, Atlantic cod is one of the most common ingredients in fish and chips, along with haddock and plaice.


Cypriniformes is an order of ray-finned fish, including the carps, minnows, loaches and relatives. This order contains 11-12 families, over 400 genera, and more than 4,250 species, with new species being described every few months or so, and new genera being recognized frequently. They are most diverse in southeastern Asia, and are entirely absent from Australia and South America.Their closest living relatives are the Characiformes (characins and allies), the Gymnotiformes (electric eel and American knifefishes) and the Siluriformes (catfishes).

Demersal fish

Demersal fish live and feed on or near the bottom of seas or lakes (the demersal zone). They occupy the sea floors and lake beds, which usually consist of mud, sand, gravel or rocks. In coastal waters they are found on or near the continental shelf, and in deep waters they are found on or near the continental slope or along the continental rise. They are not generally found in the deepest waters, such as abyssal depths or on the abyssal plain, but they can be found around seamounts and islands. The word demersal comes from the Latin demergere, which means to sink.

Demersal fish are bottom feeders. They can be contrasted with pelagic fish which live and feed away from the bottom in the open water column.

Demersal fish fillets contain little fish oil (one to four percent), whereas pelagic fish can contain up to 30 percent.

Diversity of fish

Fish are very diverse animals and can be categorised in many ways. This article is an overview of some of ways in which fish are categorised. Although most fish species have probably been discovered and described, about 250 new ones are still discovered every year. According to FishBase, 33,100 species of fish had been described by April 2015. That is more than the combined total of all other vertebrate species: mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds.

Fish species diversity is roughly divided equally between marine (oceanic) and freshwater ecosystems. Coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific constitute the centre of diversity for marine fishes, whereas continental freshwater fishes are most diverse in large river basins of tropical rainforests, especially the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong basins. More than 5,600 fish species inhabit Neotropical freshwaters alone, such that Neotropical fishes represent about 10% of all vertebrate species on the Earth. Exceptionally rich sites in the Amazon basin, such as Cantão State Park, can contain more freshwater fish species than occur in all of Europe.


An eel is any ray-finned fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes (), which consists of four suborders, 20 families, 111 genera, and about 800 species. Eels undergo considerable development from the early larval stage to the eventual adult stage, and most are predators. The term “eel” originally referred to the European eel, and the name of the order means “European eel-shaped.”

The term “eel” is also used for some other eel-shaped fish, such as electric eels (genus Electrophorus), spiny eels (family Mastacembelidae), and deep-sea spiny eels (family Notacanthidae). These other clades, however, evolved their eel-like shapes independently from the true eels.

Fish measurement

Fish measurement is the measuring of the length of individual fish and of various parts of their anatomy. These data are used in many areas of ichthyology, including taxonomy and fisheries biology.

Hallucinogenic fish

Several species of fish are claimed to produce hallucinogenic effects when consumed. For example, Sarpa salpa, a species of sea bream, is commonly claimed to be hallucinogenic. These widely distributed coastal fish are normally found in the Mediterranean and around Spain, and along the west and south coasts of Africa. Occasionally they are found in British waters. They may induce hallucinogenic effects that are purportedly LSD-like if eaten. In 2006, two men who apparently ate the fish experienced hallucinations lasting for several days. The likelihood of hallucinations depends on the season. Sarpa salpa is known as "the fish that makes dreams" in Arabic.Other species claimed to be capable of producing hallucinations include several species of sea chub from the genus Kyphosus. It is unclear whether the toxins are produced by the fish themselves or by marine algae in their diet. Other hallucinogenic fish are Siganus spinus, called "the fish that inebriates" in Reunion Island, and Mulloidichthys flavolineatus (formerly Mulloidichthys samoensis), called "the chief of ghosts" in Hawaii.


Herring are forage fish, mostly belonging to the family Clupeidae.

Herring often move in large schools around fishing banks and near the coast. The most abundant and commercially important species belong to the genus Clupea, found particularly in shallow, temperate waters of the North Pacific and the North Atlantic oceans, including the Baltic Sea, as well as off the west coast of South America. Three species of Clupea are recognised, and provide about 90% of all herrings captured in fisheries. Most abundant of all is the Atlantic herring, providing over half of all herring capture. Fishes called herring are also found in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and Bay of Bengal.

Herring played a pivotal role in the history of marine fisheries in Europe, and early in the 20th century, their study was fundamental to the evolution of fisheries science. These oily fish also have a long history as an important food fish, and are often salted, smoked, or pickled.

List of largest fish

Fish vary greatly in size. The whale shark and basking shark exceed all other fish by a considerable margin in weight and length.

List of threatened rays

Threatened rays are those vulnerable to endangerment (extinction) in the near future. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world's oldest global environmental organisation. It evaluates threatened species, and treats threatened species not as a single category, but as a group of three categories, depending on the degree to which they are threatened:

Vulnerable species

Endangered species

Critically endangered speciesThe term threatened strictly refers to these three categories (critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable), while vulnerable is used to refer to the least at risk of these categories. The terms can be used somewhat interchangeably, as all vulnerable species are threatened, all endangered species are vulnerable and threatened, and all critically endangered species are endangered, vulnerable and threatened. Threatened species are also referred to as a red-listed species, as they are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.Together rays and sharks make up the class of modern cartilaginous fishes. Modern fish are either cartilaginous or bony. Cartilaginous fishes have skeletons made of cartilage while bony fishes have skeletons made of bone. Because rays and sharks are closely related, they are often studied together. In 2010 a global IUCN study of vertebrates found that of 1,044 cartilaginous (ray and shark) species examined, 345 or 33% were threatened with extinction.There are four orders of rays: stingrays, skates, electric rays and sawfishes. Like sharks, rays are relatively long living and thrive in stable populations. They are K-strategists which grow slowly, mature late sexually and produce few offspring. They cannot recover as rapidly as many faster growing fish can if their populations are depleted. As with sharks, rays are increasingly becoming vulnerable because of commercial and recreational fishing pressures, the impact of non-ray fisheries on the seabed and ray prey species, and other habitat alterations such as damage and loss from coastal development and marine pollution. Most particularly, the continuing decline of threatened rays and sharks is the consequence of unregulated fishing.

Manta rays are largest rays in the world, with wingspans reaching 7 metres. They have one of the highest brain-to-body mass ratios of all fish. Manta populations suffer when they are caught as bycatch by fishermen fishing for other species, but fisheries which target manta rays are even more harmful. Manta rays use their gills to filter plankton from the sea. Demand for their dried gill rakers, cartilaginous structures protecting the gills, has been growing in traditional Chinese medicine practices. The market is "bogus" since dried manta gills have never been used historically in Chinese medicine, and there is no evidence that the gills have any medicinal value. The flesh is edible and is consumed in some countries, but is tough and unattractive compared to other fish. To fill the growing demand in Asia for gill rakers, targeted fisheries have developed in other parts of the world, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, West Africa and Central and South America. Each year, thousands of manta rays, primarily the giant manta ray, are being caught and killed purely for their gill rakers. A fisheries study in Sri Lanka estimated that over a thousand of these were being sold in the country's fish markets each year.In 2011, manta rays became strictly protected in international waters thanks to their recent inclusion in the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The CMS is an international treaty organization concerned with conserving migratory species and habitats on a global scale. Although individual nations were already protecting manta rays, the fish often migrate through unregulated waters, putting them at increased risk from overfishing. In 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listed both species of manta rays as CITES Appendix II species. This means that the international trade of manta rays will now be monitored and regulated.Sawfish are a less well known family of rays which have a long rostrum resembling a saw. Some species can reach 7 metres or 23 feet in length. All species of sawfish are either endangered or critically endangered as a result of habitat destruction and overfishing. Their young stay close to shore, and are particularly affected by coastal developments. Because their rostrum is easily entangled, sawfishes can easily become bycatch in fishing nets. They are also exploited for the novelty value of their rostrum, their fins are eaten as a delicacy in China, and their liver oil used as a food supplement. While arguing for a global ban on international commerce in 2007, a representative from the National Museums of Kenya stated, "Only the meat is consumed locally; and artisanal fishermen can retire after catching one sawfish due to the high value of a single rostrum, up to $1,450." In 2013 CITES uplisted the largetooth sawfish to Appendix I. This is CITES highest protection level, and means that all international trade of the species is banned.

List of threatened sharks

Threatened sharks are those vulnerable to endangerment (extinction) in the near future. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world's oldest global environmental organization. It evaluates threatened species, and treats threatened species not as a single category, but as a group of three categories, depending on the degree to which they are threatened:

Vulnerable species

Endangered species

Critically endangered speciesThe term threatened strictly refers to these three categories (critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable), while vulnerable is used to refer to the least at risk of these categories. The terms can be used somewhat interchangeably, as all vulnerable species are threatened, all endangered species are vulnerable and threatened, and all critically endangered species are endangered, vulnerable and threatened. Threatened species are also referred to as a red-listed species, as they are listed in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Shark species are increasingly becoming threatened because of commercial and recreational fishing pressures, the impact of non-shark fisheries on the seabed and shark prey species, and other habitat alterations such as damage and loss from coastal development and marine pollution. Rising demands for shark products has increased pressure on shark fisheries, but little monitoring or management occurs of most fisheries. Major declines in shark stocks have been recorded over the past few decades; some species had declined over 90% and population declines of 70% were not unusual by 1998. In particular, harvesting young sharks before they reproduce severely impacts future populations. Sharks generally reach sexual maturity only after many years and produce few offspring in comparison to other fish species.Conservationists estimate that up to 100 million sharks are killed by commercial and recreational fishing every year. Sharks are often killed for shark fin soup, which some Asian countries regard as a status symbol. Fishermen capture live sharks, fin them, and dump the finless animal back into the water to die from suffocation or predators. Sharks are also killed for their flesh in Europe and elsewhere. The 2007 film Sharkwater documents ways in which sharks are being hunted to extinction. In 2009, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group reported on the conservation status of pelagic (open water) sharks and rays. They found that over half the pelagic sharks targeted by high-seas fisheries were threatened with extinction.In 2010, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) rejected proposals from the United States and Palau that would have required countries to strictly regulate trade in several species of hammerhead, oceanic whitetip and dogfish sharks. The majority, but not the required two-thirds of voting delegates, approved the proposal. China, by far the world's largest shark consumer, and Japan, which battles all attempts to extend the Convention's protections to marine species, led the opposition.In 2013, CITES member nations overcame the continued opposition led by China and Japan, and reversed course. In what CITES has called a "milestone", the oceanic whitetip, porbeagle, and three species of hammerheads will now join the great white, basking and whale shark on CITES Appendix II, effective September 2014. International trade of these species is thus prohibited without CITES permits, "... and evidence will have to be provided that they are harvested sustainably and legally."In 2014 the state government of Western Australia led by Premier Colin Barnett implemented a policy of killing large sharks. The policy is intended to protect users of the marine environment from shark attack following the deaths of seven people on the Western Australian coastline in the years 2010 to 2013. Baited drum lines are deployed near popular beaches using hooks designed to catch the vulnerable great white shark, as well as bull and tiger sharks. Large sharks found hooked but still alive are shot and their bodies discarded at sea. The government claims they are not culling sharks, but are using a "targeted, localised, hazard mitigation strategy". Barnett has described opposition to killing the sharks as "ludicrous" and "extreme", and said that nothing can change his mind.


Mackerel is a common name applied to a number of different species of pelagic fish, mostly from the family Scombridae. They are found in both temperate and tropical seas, mostly living along the coast or offshore in the oceanic environment.

Mackerel species typically have vertical stripes on their backs and deeply forked tails. Many are restricted in their distribution ranges and live in separate populations or fish stocks based on geography. Some stocks migrate in large schools along the coast to suitable spawning grounds, where they spawn in fairly shallow waters. After spawning they return the way they came in smaller schools to suitable feeding grounds, often near an area of upwelling. From there they may move offshore into deeper waters and spend the winter in relative inactivity. Other stocks migrate across oceans.

Smaller mackerel are forage fish for larger predators, including larger mackerel and Atlantic cod. Flocks of seabirds, whales, dolphins, sharks, and schools of larger fish such as tuna and marlin follow mackerel schools and attack them in sophisticated and cooperative ways. Mackerel flesh is high in omega-3 oils and is intensively harvested by humans. In 2009, over 5 million tons were landed by commercial fishermen. Sport fishermen value the fighting abilities of the king mackerel.


"Sardine" and "pilchard" are common names used to refer to various small, oily fish in the herring family Clupeidae. The term "sardine" was first used in English during the early 15th century and may come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant.The terms "sardine" and "pilchard” are not precise, and what is meant depends on the region. The United Kingdom's Sea Fish Industry Authority, for example, classifies sardines as young pilchards. One criterion suggests fish shorter in length than 15 cm (6 in) are sardines, and larger fish are pilchards. The FAO/WHO Codex standard for canned sardines cites 21 species that may be classed as sardines; FishBase, a comprehensive database of information about fish, calls at least six species "pilchard", over a dozen just "sardine", and many more with the two basic names qualified by various adjectives.


SeaLifeBase is a global online database of information about marine life. It aims to provide key information on the taxonomy, distribution and ecology of all marine species in the world apart from finfish. SeaLifeBase is in partnership with the WorldFish Center in Malaysia and the UBC Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia. Daniel Pauly is the principal investigator and it is coordinated by Maria Lourdes D. Palomares. As of October 2016, it included descriptions of 74,000 species, 47,700 common names, 12,400 pictures, and references to 31,700 works in the scientific literature. SeaLifeBase complements FishBase, which provides parallel information for finfish.


Sturgeon is the common name for the 27 species of fish belonging to the family Acipenseridae. Their evolution dates back to the Triassic some 245 to 208 million years ago. The family is grouped into four genera: Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. Four species may now be extinct. Two closely related species, Polyodon spathula (American paddlefish) and Psephurus gladius (Chinese paddlefish, possibly extinct) are of the same order, Acipenseriformes, but are in the family Polyodontidae and are not considered to be "true" sturgeons. Both sturgeons and paddlefish have been referred to as "primitive fishes" because their morphological characteristics have remained relatively unchanged since the earliest fossil record. Sturgeons are native to subtropical, temperate and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes and coastlines of Eurasia and North America.Sturgeons are long-lived, late-maturing fishes with distinctive characteristics, such as a heterocercal caudal fin similar to that of sharks, and an elongated spindle-like body that is smooth-skinned, scaleless and armored with 5 lateral rows of bony plates called scutes. Several species can grow quite large, typically ranging 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length. The largest sturgeon on record was a Beluga female captured in the Volga estuary in 1827, weighing 1,571 kg (3,463 lb) and 7.2 m (24 ft) long. Most sturgeons are anadromous bottom-feeders which migrate upstream to spawn but spend most of their lives feeding in river deltas and estuaries. Some species inhabit freshwater environments exclusively while others primarily inhabit marine environments near coastal areas, and are known to venture into open ocean.

Several species of sturgeon are harvested for their roe which is processed into caviar—a luxury food and the reason why caviar-producing sturgeons are among the most valuable of all wildlife resources. They are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation and other threats, including pollution and habitat fragmentation. Most species of sturgeon are considered to be at risk of extinction, making them more critically endangered than any other group of species.In art, a sturgeon is the symbol on the coat of arms for Saint Amalberga of Temse.


A tuna (also called tunny) is a saltwater fish that belongs to the tribe Thunnini, a subgrouping of the Scombridae (mackerel) family. The Thunnini comprise 15 species across five genera, the sizes of which vary greatly, ranging from the bullet tuna (max. length: 50 cm (1.6 ft), weight: 1.8 kg (4 lb)) up to the Atlantic bluefin tuna (max. length: 4.6 m (15 ft), weight: 684 kg (1,508 lb)). The bluefin averages 2 m (6.6 ft), and is believed to live up to 50 years.

Tuna, opah, and mackerel sharks are the only species of fish that can maintain a body temperature higher than that of the surrounding water. An active and agile predator, the tuna has a sleek, streamlined body, and is among the fastest-swimming pelagic fish – the yellowfin tuna, for example, is capable of speeds of up to 75 km/h (47 mph). Found in warm seas, it is extensively fished commercially, and is popular as a game fish. As a result of overfishing, stocks of some tuna species, such as the southern bluefin tuna, are close to extinction.

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