Skipjack Fish is the smallest and most abundant major commercial tuna species. They have a streamlined body that is mostly without scales.
They are typically found in Caribbean and Pacific waters, though they have been located as far north as the Gulf of Maine and west to the Hawaiian Islands.
They can reach sizes of up to 2.6 m (8 ft) long, though they often grow to between 100-180 cm (3-6 ft). Skipjack can be distinguished from other species by their lack of scales.
A biological characteristic is their high rate of growth. Skipjack spawns seasonally in the Pacific up to our summer and fall.
The Skipjack Fish, being a small fish, has a very limited life span, and although there are no specifically recorded deaths, it is thought that Skipjack can live 10-30 years.
A skipjack is caught by many fishermen in small numbers in the northern Atlantic Ocean off Canada. Although they are caught on longlines and gillnets in this region, they have an extremely low sustainable yield.
Their backs are dark purple-blue, and their lower sides and bellies are silver with four to six dark bands. Skipjack can live as long as eight to 10 years.
They are found mainly in the tropical areas of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, with the greatest abundance seen near the equator.
Skipjack usually swims near the surface at night and can dive up to 850 feet during the day. Large schools of adult skipjack tuna often mix with juvenile yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
Skipjack Fish Characteristics
These fish are generally found in small schools and are relatively easy to catch. The Skipjack is known for its speediness and great endurance.
They may move as fast as 25mph but have been known to go as high as 60 mph when aggressively hunting. This tuna is often caught by longline, surface or pole and line, purse seine, or trolling methods.
The Skipjack Fish usually measures between 3-5 feet long and weighs approximately 40 pounds on average.
The Skipjack is considered a tasty fish and possesses an impressive amount of mercury in its body. The flesh of the Skipjack is paler than that of most other tuna species and can be distinguished from other striped tuna by its coloration.
The Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea are the most preferred areas for catching this fish because their diet consists primarily of small fish and crustaceans. Skipjack has been known to feed on small whales, sharks, and dolphins.
The Appearance Of The Skipjack Fish
Skipjack tuna can be distinguished from other fish, most notably tuna, due to their size. They are very small and can reach a maximum length of 80 cm (31 in).
Skipjack is silver on the lower half of their body, with four or six gray bands and another dark gray. The upper half is usually dark blue.
These colors help to camouflage it from predators at the water’s surface so they may feed more efficiently in deep waters.
Origin Of The Skipjack Fish
The skipjack species predominantly inhabit the Pacific Ocean, but they are also known to inhabit the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and North Pacific Ocean.
They can be found in tropical and subtropical waters and seen in waters as high as 4,000 feet in the ocean. Skipjack is found on both sides of the equator towards the poles of their location.
Breeding Of The Skipjack
Skipjack can be found in schools as high as 50,000 fish. They occur in large groups, and high speeds characterize these schools. Most often, they are moving at speeds of approximately 25 mph.
They may also travel up to 70 mph. The male Skipjack is the one that will get the prized silver stripe on its side. While the females do not show any expressions of being pregnant or giving birth, they produce 200-300 eggs per month.
The Skipjack has small fish, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. It feeds on these creatures while they are at the surface of the sea and swims above them.
The Skipjack is extremely fast but can still avoid predators resting below it in their search for prey.
Benefits Of Skipjack Fish
1. The Skipjack has a very high growth rate, so it is not unusual for a skipjack to reach a length of 20-30 feet in less than 3 years. In addition, they have the speed and endurance to survive in environments where other species are unable to.
2. The Skipjack is known to live as long as 8–10 years and can be caught early in its life due to its small size.
3. The Skipjack is a versatile fish used for any commercial purposes. They are sold fresh, frozen, or dried and salted. They are used to produce tuna oil, canned tuna, and pet food.
4. The Skipjack is used in several types of sport fishing gear and an amazing baitfish for larger game fish.
5. The Skipjack is a very tasty fish and is extremely healthy for human consumption.
6. The Skipjack is a key species in recovering the Atlantic bluefin tuna, so protecting their abundance and populations is important to ensure their sustainability.
7. The Skipjack is known to be a very fast swimmers but can move as quick as 25 mph in an attempt to escape predators.
8. Skipjack are resistant to diseases and parasites that other species may succumb to.
9. The Skipjack is produced in large numbers and is extremely profitable for fishers.
10. The Skipjack can be extremely productive, so it is an important species for many areas of the world where it is commercially harvested due to its profitability.
Skipjack Fish Facts
Skipjack can live up to 10 years, but most are caught between 8 and 10 years old. The average weight of Skipjack is approximately 40 pounds.
The world record weight is 14 pounds, 4 ounces. The average size of this species is 3 feet long, with a maximum recorded length of 6 feet and 8 inches.
The Skipjack can reach a maximum speed of up to 40 mph. They are often targets for the game fisherman who use live or artificial bait to catch the Skipjack. Their diet includes sardines, small fish, squid, and other crustaceans.
This species is most often fished in the northern Atlantic Ocean off Canada.
Is Skipjack tuna?
Skipjack and other species of striped tuna are not tuna. They are a different type of fish; in the case of Skipjack, the term “tuna” is used loosely to refer to the entire genus Thunnus.
Skipjack is referred to as “true” or “regular” tuna because they are closely related and very similar to a particular species known as yellowfin tuna or Pacific yellowfin tuna.
What kind of fish is a skipjack?
The skipjack tuna (Thunnus obesus) belongs to the mackerel order in the tunas family, which encompasses many species.
The Skipjack is one of the smallest tuna species and has an extended spiny evolution. Skipjack has a metallic coloration with irregular brownish or greenish spotting on their backs.
The area from their gills back to the tail is often silver-white while it gets brighter as they move towards their belly.
The skipjack tuna has a small body that is very streamlined. They have large, compound eyes and a pair of barbels along their lower jaw.
The nasal openings are near the tail fin, while the mouth is below the eye. They have feeding tentacles covering their mouths containing serrated teeth that slice through prey and crush it using its jaw muscles.
Another one of their many familiar names is Bonita.