Tuna Species Identification, Size and Possession Limits
Upper body is dark blue without spots or stripes. Has the longest pectoral fin of all the tunas, extending past the start of the second dorsal fin. Also a dark yellow first dorsal fin, a pale yellow second dorsal and anal fins and a distinctive white outer edge on the caudal fin. Paler, dry flesh when cooked. Common in schools in offshore waters of southern Australia. Grows to a maximum of 1.3m in length and about 55 kilograms.
Smaller tuna identified by 3 - 5 dark horizontal stripes on the lower half and sides against a silvery white belly. The dorsal fins are narrowly separated with 14-16 spines in the first dorsal fin. Skipjack have a thickened scale patch near the pectoral fin base and no scales on the posterior half of the body, except on the lateral line. Common in large schools in coastal waters of southern Australia, mostly near the surface. Grows to around 1 metre and 35 kilograms. Also known as stripey tuna.
Southern Bluefin Tuna:
Blue-black on the body and silver-white on the flanks and belly. Can live for up to 40 years and grow to 200 kilograms and 2 metres in length. Large, fast swimming and found in the open ocean. Known to gather near the surface in southern coastal waters of Australia during warmer months (December-April) and spend winter in deeper, temperate oceanic waters. More information about
Dark blue-black on the body, silver to yellow on the belly and a yellow stripe that runs from eye to tail. They have moderate to long pectoral fins reaching just beyond the start of the second dorsal fin. The second dorsal fin, anal fin and anal finlets are yellow. Can grow to over 2 metres in length and up to 175 kilograms. Mainly found in schools in offshore warm temperate and tropical waters of Australia.
Fish illustrations by Peter Gouldthorpe.