Yellowfin Tuna

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Yellowfin Tuna

Thunnus albacares

Last updated: May 4, 2022
Verified by: IMP
Image Credit Shane Gross/

The yellowfin forms schools with other tuna species

Yellowfin Tuna Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Thunnus albacares

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Yellowfin Tuna Conservation Status

Yellowfin Tuna Locations

Yellowfin Tuna Locations

Yellowfin Tuna Facts

Main Prey
Fish, crustaceans, cephalopods, and mollusks
Group Behavior
  • School
Fun Fact
The yellowfin forms schools with other tuna species
Estimated Population Size
Biggest Threat
Most Distinctive Feature
The long yellow-colored secondary fins
Other Name(s)
Gestation Period
A few days
Sharks, whales, marlins, seabirds, humans, and other fish
Ray-finned fish
Common Name
Yellowfin tuna
Number Of Species

Yellowfin Tuna Physical Characteristics

  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Silver
Skin Type
Top Speed
50 mph
7 or 8 years
Up to 450lbs
Up to 2m (7ft)

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View all of the Yellowfin Tuna images!

The yellowfin is the second most commonly eaten tuna species in the world.

With its yellow coloring and huge secondary fins, this species is unmistakable and easy to recognize.

3 Incredible Yellowfin Tuna Facts!

  • As it migrates around the globe, the yellowfin tuna fish forms large schools with skipjack, bigeye, and even dolphins and whales.
  • This species can swim up to 50 miles per hour.
  • Newly hatched fry are nearly microscopic in size.

Yellowfin Tuna Classification and Scientific Name

The scientific name of the yellowfin is Thunnus albacares. This is a combination of two Latin words: albus, meaning white, and caro, meaning flesh. The yellowfin is also known by the alternative Hawaiian name of Ahi.

Yellowfin Tuna Appearance

The yellowfin tuna fish, or Ahi, is characterized by a dark blue back and yellow sides fading to silver around the belly. The most prominent characteristics are the two long, yellow fins jutting out from the back and stomach. Most specimens weigh up to 450 pounds.

Yellowfin tuna out in the open ocean in crystal clear blue water

Al McGlashan/

Yellowfin Tuna Distribution, Population, and Habitat

The yellowfin tuna fish can be found throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans, but several stocks appear to be declining due to overfishing and bycatch. According to the IUCN Red List, this species is near threatened.

Yellowfin Tuna Predators and Prey

The yellowfin is one of the fastest fish in the water, which enables it to evade predators and capture prey.

What does the yellowfin eat?

The yellowfin preys upon squid, crustaceans, and many types of perciform fish.

What eats the yellowfin?

Yellowfin are preyed upon by seabirds, sharks, billfish, false killer whales, and larger tuna. Only the largest predators can consume an adult yellowfin, however. The other predators target the juveniles and eggs.

Yellowfin Tuna Reproduction and Lifespan

The yellowfin breeds all year round (with peak spawning season in the summer) by releasing millions of sperm and eggs into the water. The few that survive this initial stage will mature in two to three years and live for about seven or eight years.

Yellowfin in Fishing and Cooking

The yellowfin makes up 30% of the annual tuna stock, second only to the skipjack. They are often pole-caught for sustainability reasons. The yellowfin has a milder flavor and firm texture compared to skipjack, and it can be found for a reasonable price.

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Yellowfin Tuna FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How do you cook yellowfin tuna?

The yellowfin is frequently grilled or made into a steak or salad.

What is the yellowfin tuna?

The yellowfin is a member of the true tuna group. It can be distinguished from other species by the yellow coloration and the very long secondary dorsal and anal fins.

Can yellowfin tuna be eaten rare?

Yes, yellowfin can be eaten rare, but this has greater health risks compared to well-cooked meat.

Is yellowfin tuna good for you?

Yellowfin is a healthy meal high in good fats and other nutrients, but due to its mercury content, consumption should be limited to only a few servings a week.

How big is a yellowfin tuna?

The yellowfin can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh some 450 pounds.

What is the estimated population size of Yellowfin Tunas?

There are millions of Yellowfin Tunas.

What are some distinguishing features of the Yellowfin Tuna?

The Yellowfin Tuna has a long, yellow-colored secondary fin.

What is another name for the Yellowfin Tuna?

The Yellowfin Tuna is also called the ahi.

What is an interesting fact about the Yellowfin Tuna?

The yellowfin forms schools with other tuna species.

How fast is a Yellowfin Tuna?

A Yellowfin Tuna can travel at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

How do Yellowfin Tunas have babies?

Yellowfin Tunas lay eggs.

What are the differences between Bluefin tuna and Yellowfin tuna?

The main differences between bluefin and yellowfin tuna are that bluefin is significantly larger, fetch a higher price, and have a smaller global distribution than yellowfin.

Both bluefin and yellowfin tuna are top predators in the world’s oceans, but there are some definitive differences between them. Worldwide, there are three recognized bluefin species, and only one recognized yellowfin species. All three bluefin species are highly prized as sport and culinary fish, but the yellowfin is also seeing an increase in both markets as well. These large, powerful fish are easily identifiable and are clear apex predators in any habitat they frequent.

What are the key differences between a mahi and an ahi?

The key differences between a mahi and an ahi are origin of name, appearance, distribution, and culinary uses.

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