We say "Red Tuna",

but what species are we talking about?

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  • 1. We say “Bluefin Tuna”, but what species are we talking about?
Image thon rouge Stéphane Le Gallais
A large bluefin tuna observed off Corsica (© Stéphan Le Gallais - Underwater photographs)

Atlantic bluefin tuna

Atlantic bluefin tuna(Thunnus thynnus) lives in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It moves in schools and makes important migrations to feed and reproduce. Although it tends to live in surface waters, it can dive to depths of up to 1000 m. This voracious and fast predator (it is capable of speeds of over 100 km per hour) feeds on fish, squid and pelagic crustaceans (living in open water). A record-breaking fish, it can live for 40 years or more, reach 3 m in length and weigh 600 kg! Located at the top of the marine food chain, its predators are the killer whale, the great white shark … and Man!

Madrague Thon - Roi Dom Carlos Ier
Reproduction d’époque d’une œuvre au pastel réalisée par le Roi Dom Carlos Ier, Roi du Portugal (1899), intitulée « Le lever des filets d’une Madrague (Algarve)» (O levantar de uma armação do atum, Algarve), offerte à l'empereur Guillaume II d'Allemagne. Collections de l’Institut océanographique (©Michel Dagnino)

Geographical distribution of bluefin tuna

This map shows the spatial distribution of the Atlantic bluefin tuna: in blue its distribution area, in yellow the known spawning areas. The black arrows indicate the main migration routes (Figure adapted from Fromentin and Powers – 2005) © Ifremer.

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Le cycle de vie du thon rouge de l’Atlantique


The bluefin tuna is one of the rare fish capable of endothermy: it adapts its body temperature to its environment and can thus evolve in cold water (where it feeds) or warm water (where it reproduces), that is to say from 3 to 30°C!
thons Monaco
Lancés à pleine vitesse, les thons rouges sont capables de faire des bonds spectaculaires hors de l’eau. Images prises au large de la Principauté (© Patrice Garziglia)