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Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) Photographs and Information

Skipjack Tuna is also known as Striped Tuna or Stripies. The skipjack or striped tuna is also known by many Australian anglers as the "stripey". In Hawaii, the Polynesian name for this prolific species is "aku". As with all the tunas, the name "tunny" is still sometimes used, and skipjacks are often confused with bonito (Sarda australis and S. orientalis).

Skipjack Tuna are dark blue or purple on the back and silvery on their lower sides and belly.  They have three to five prominent, dark longitudinal bands on their lower sides.  These tuna have fine, slender teeth, a strong median keel on the caudal fin base between two small keels, and barely separated first and second dorsal fins.,   They have a total of 53-63 gill rakers on the first gill arch.

The skipjack is small to medium fish with a very thickset, barrel-like body that tapers abruptly to a relatively small, upright tail. This fish is characterised by its belly stripes, which contrast with the upper back and flank stripes of the true bonitos. Skipjack colouration is typically steel-blue to purple on the back, silvery-blue on the flanks and silvery-white on the belly. The belly area carries four to six longitudinal dark stripes.

Skipjack tuna are widespread in Australia's oceanic waters.  The global distribution of skipjack tuna includes all tropical and subtropical waters except for the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.  They normally inhabit waters with surface temperatures of 20C to 30C.  However, adults are sometimes present waters as cold as 15C.  Skipjack tuna also need a dissolved oxygen level of 2.5 ml per 1 of sea water to maintain a minimum swimming speed and require higher levels when active.   This requirement generally restricts skipjack tuna to water above the thermocline and in some areas, such as the eastern Pacific, may exclude them from surface waters.

The depth range of skipjack tuna can be from surface waters to 260m during the day, but at night it is much shallower.  Skipjack tuna are a schooling fish having a general tendency to school by size.

Skipjack tuna are thought to spawn in the Coral Sea off north Queensland and in waters off north western Australia.  In equatorial waters spawning occurs during all months, but in sub-tropical waters the season is restricted to summer and early autumn.

In tropical waters reproductively active female skipjack tuna spawn almost daily.   Ripe skipjack tuna eggs are about 1mm in diameter and transparent and buoyant.   Estimates of the number of eggs released at each spawning range from about 100,000 eggs for the smallest mature females to 2 million for the largest fish.  Skipjack tuna eggs hatch after 1-1.5 days.

Most striped tuna or skipjack caught by Australian anglers weigh from 1 to 6 kg, with a few giants of close to 10 kg turning up occasionally. Record catches in other parts of the world have topped 18 kg, but such fish are uncommon.

The warm East Australian Current distributes skipjack tuna larvae into subtropical waters off eastern Australia.

Commercial catch of skipjack tuna

Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Map showing where striped or skipjack tuna are found in Australian waters

Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)
French: Bonite A Ventre Raye
German: Echter Bonito
Italian: Tonnetto Striato
Spanish: Listado, Barrilete
Japanese: Katsuo
Hawaii names: Aku
Sri Lanka:  Balaya

Did you know?
Tuna cannot pump water over their gills like other fish, instead they swim with their mouths open which forces the water over their gills. If they stop swimming they will suffocate.

Did you know?
Tuna have hearts that are much larger than other fish, they are about 10 times as large, relative to the size of the body.

Scientific Name Katsuwonus pelamis
Location Australia wide
Season October to July
Size To 20 kg
Australian Species Code 37 441003
Taste, Texture Mild and meaty when cooked.  Medium Texture


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Yellowfin Tuna fillet.

Kilojoules 521 (124 calories)
Cholesterol 30 mg
Sodium 37 g
Total fat (oil) 0.5 g
Saturated fat 33% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 13% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 54% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 14 mg
Omega-3, DHA 100 mg
Omega-6, AA 15 mg

Angling for Skipjack Tuna | Tuna Fishing :

Striped tuna, skipjack tuna, skip jack tuna photoSkipjack tuna are commonly caught by sport and recreational anglers.  Most fish are caught by trolling or casting small lures from a boat.  Catches are also made using flies or baits of whole, small fish or flesh strips.  Skipjack tuna are a very good bait for a variety of marine fish, with large skipjack tuna being used for the larger species of tuna and billfish.


Cooking Skipjack Tuna:

In the past, skipjack were not often eaten in Australia because of their dark, blood-rich meat and strong flavour. However, if bled promptly and kept on ice they are quite palatable in casseroles, pies or when baked. They are also well suited to canning, smoking, salting and drying. Recipes for tuna from How to cook fish, Tuna Recipes from Sea-Ex, nutritional information.


Commercial Fishing for Skipjack Tuna:

Commercial fishing for Skipjack Tuna is generally carried out from December to March   by pole-and-line and purse seine vessels.  Yellowfin and albacore tuna are taken as a bycatch of both fishing methods. The Skipjack Tuna Fishery comprises two sub-fisheries, the Western and Eastern Skipjack Tuna Fisheries. The fishery as a whole extends throughout the Australian Fishing Zone. Take of bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna as a by-catch is limited to 2% of the total weight of a vessels seasonal skipjack tuna catch.

Sea-Ex Trade Seafood Industry Directory:
Exporters of Skipjack Tuna  |  Importers of Skipjack Tuna  |  Processors of Skipjack Tuna  |  Wholesale Suppliers of Skipjack Tuna  |  Agents for Skipjack Tuna



More links about Skipjack Tuna and Tuna Information

Sea-Ex Trade Seafood Industry Directory, West Coast Tuna Fishing History - The Rise & Fall of the Tuna Industry in San Diego USA, San Diego Tuna Boats, Tuna Association of Ecuador, Commonwealth Fisheries Association




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