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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Epipelagic in neritic and oceanic waters (Ref. 9340). Feeds on small fish, squids, planktonic crustaceans (megalops), and stomatopod larvae (Ref. 5213). Because of their abundance, they are considered an important element of the food web, particularly as forage for other species of commercial interest. Preyed upon by larger fishes, including other tunas (Ref. 9987). Marketed fresh and frozen (Ref. 9340); also utilized dried or salted, smoked and canned (Ref. 9987).
  • Collette, B.B. and C.R. Aadland 1996 Revision of the frigate tunas (Scombridae, Auxis), with descriptions of two new subspecies from the eastern Pacific. Fish. Bull. 94(3):423-441. (Ref. 32349)
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is present in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. It is considered vagrant in the Mediterranean Sea. However, there are only a few records of this species in the Atlantic as most of the Auxis in the Atlantic are Auxis rochei.

The Eastern Pacific population is recognized as a subspecies, Auxis thazard brachydorax (Collette and Aadland 1996), which occurs from California to the mouth of the Gulf of California to Peru, and all the oceanic islands except Clipperton (Robertson and Allen 2006).
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Atlantic, Indian and Pacific (Western Central). Eastern Pacific population recognized as subspecies Auxis thazard brachydorax (Ref. 32349). Many authors have used the name Auxis thazard as including Auxis rochei in the belief that there was only a single worldwide species of Auxis. Highly migratory species, Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (Ref. 26139).
  • Collette, B.B. and C.R. Aadland 1996 Revision of the frigate tunas (Scombridae, Auxis), with descriptions of two new subspecies from the eastern Pacific. Fish. Bull. 94(3):423-441. (Ref. 32349)
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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Circumglobal in tropical through temperate seas, including Red Sea, Madagascar, Mascarenes, Hawaiian Islands, but except Eastern Pacific
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 10 - 12; Dorsal soft rays (total): 10 - 13; Analspines: 0; Analsoft rays: 10 - 14
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Size

Maximum size: 650 mm FL
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Max. size

65.0 cm FL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 29114)); max. published weight: 1,720 g (Ref. 40637); max. reported age: 5 years (Ref. 29114)
  • IGFA 2001 Database of IGFA angling records until 2001. IGFA, Fort Lauderdale, USA. (Ref. 40637)
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Diagnostic Description

Back bluish, turning to deep purple or almost black on the head. A pattern of 15 or more narrow, oblique to nearly horizontal, dark wavy lines in scaleless area above lateral line. Belly white. Pectoral and pelvic fins purple, their inner sides black. Body robust, elongate and rounded. Teeth small and conical, in a single series. Pectoral fins short, but reaching past vertical line from anterior margin of scaleless area above corselet. A large single-pointed flap (interpelvic process) between pelvic fins. Body naked except for the corselet, which is well developed and narrow in its posterior part (no more than 5 scales wide under second dorsal-fin origin). A strong central keel on each side of caudal-fin base between 2 smaller keels (Ref 9684).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This is a pelagic, oceanodromous species that is also epipelagic in neritic and oceanic waters (Collette 1995). Adults are coastal or near-coastal, while juveniles are more widely spread throughout the world's ocean. It feeds on small fish, squids, planktonic crustaceans (megalops), and stomatopod larvae. Because of their abundance, they are considered an important element of the food web, particularly as forage for other species of commercial interest. It is preyed upon by larger fishes, including other tunas and billfishes.

Longevity is approximately four years. The smallest maturing female off the west coast of Thailand was 31–33 cm fork length (FL), and the length at 50% maturity in the Gulf of Thailand was 34–37 cm FL (Yesaki and Arce 1994, Collette 2010). Length at maturity 50% is 30.5 cm FL in India (Muthiah 1985). Average estimated length-age relationships in the equatorial Atlantic are 22.9 cm at one year, 30.4 cm at two years, 36.7 cm at three years and 40.4 cm at four years (Grudtsev and Korolevich 1986).

Fecundity estimates range from 78,000 to 1.37 million eggs in 31.5–44.2 cm females. In correlation with temperature and other environmental changes, the spawning season varies with areas, but in some places it may even extend throughout the year. In the southern Indian Ocean, spawning extends from August to April, north of the equator from January to April at sea surface temperatures of 24°C or higher (Klawe 1963, Collette 2010).

Maximum Size is 62 cm FL. The all-tackle game fish record is of a 1.72 kg fish caught off Hat Head, New south Wales, Australia in 1998 (IGFA 2011).

Systems
  • Marine
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Habitat Type: Marine

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Environment

pelagic-neritic; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243); marine; depth range 50 - ? m (Ref. 9340)
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
  • Collette, B.B. 1995 Scombridae. Atunes, bacoretas, bonitos, caballas, estorninos, melva, etc. p. 1521-1543. In W. Fischer, F. Krupp, W. Schneider, C. Sommer, K.E. Carpenter and V. Niem (eds.) Guia FAO para Identification de Especies para lo Fines de la Pesca. Pacifico Centro-Oriental. 3 Vols. FAO, Rome. (Ref. 9340)
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Depth range based on 20 specimens in 3 taxa.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 237

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 237
 
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Oceanodromous. Migrating within oceans typically between spawning and different feeding areas, as tunas do. Migrations should be cyclical and predictable and cover more than 100 km.
  • Riede, K. 2004 Global register of migratory species - from global to regional scales. Final Report of the R&D-Projekt 808 05 081. Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Bonn, Germany. 329 p. (Ref. 51243)
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Trophic Strategy

Epipelagic in neritic and oceanic waters (Ref. 9340). Feeds on small fish, squids, planktonic crustaceans (megalops), and stomatopod larvae (Ref. 5213). Because of their abundance, they are considered an important element of the food web, particularly as forage for other species of commercial interest. Preyed upon by larger fishes, including other tunas (Ref. 9987). Confined to oceanic salinities with strong schooling behavior. Though larvae have a high temperature tolerance (at least between 21.6 and 30.5°C), the widest among tuna species studied, their optimum temperature is between 27 and 27.9°C.
  • Collette, B.B. and C.E. Nauen 1983 FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 2. Scombrids of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of tunas, mackerels, bonitos and related species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(2):137 p. (Ref. 168)
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Diseases and Parasites

Tergestia Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Rhipidocotyle Infestation. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Phyllodistomum Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Phacelotrema Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Opepherotrema Infestation. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Hexostoma auxidi Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Didymozoon Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Colocynotrema Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Callitetrarhynchus Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Bomolochus Disease. Parasitic infestations (protozoa, worms, etc.)
  • Uchida, R.N. 1981 Synopsis of biological data on frigate tuna, Auxis thazard, and bullet tuna, A. rochei. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS Circular 436. FAO Fish. Synop. No. 12, 463 p. (Ref. 235)
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

In correlation with temperature and other environmental changes, the spawning season varies with areas, but in some places it may even extend throughout the year.
  • Collette, B.B. and C.E. Nauen 1983 FAO Species Catalogue. Vol. 2. Scombrids of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of tunas, mackerels, bonitos and related species known to date. Rome: FAO. FAO Fish. Synop. 125(2):137 p. (Ref. 168)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Auxis thazard

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 22 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CTTTATCTAGTATTCGGTGCATGAGCTGGTATAGTTGGCACAGCCCTA---AGCTTGCTCATCCGAGCTGAACTAAGCCAACCAGGTGCCCTTCTCGGGGAC---GACCAAATCTACAATGTAATCGTTACGGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATGATTTTCTTTATAGTAATGCCAATTATGATTGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTCATCCCTCTAATG---ATCGGAGCTCCAGACATGGCATTCCCACGAATGAACAACATGAGCTTCTGACTTCTCCCTCCTTCTTTCCTTCTACTACTAGCTTCTTCAGGAGTTGAAGCTGGTGCCGGAACCGGTTGAACAGTTTACCCGCCCCTTGCTGGTAATCTAGCCCACGCCGGGGCATCCGTTGACTTA---ACTATTTTCTCCCTCCACCTAGCAGGTGTATCCTCAATTCTTGGGGCTATTAATTTCATTACAACAATTATTAACATGAAACCTGCCGCTATTTCCCAATACCAAACTCCCCTGTTTGTGTGGGCCGTTCTAATTACAGCCGTCCTTCTCCTTCTATCACTCCCAGTTCTTGCCGCT---GGCATTACAATGCTCCTAACAGACCGAAACCTAAATACAACCTTCTTCGACCCTGCAGGAGGGGGAGACCCAATTCTTTACCAACACCTA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Auxis thazard

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 52
Specimens with Barcodes: 73
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2011

Assessor/s
Collette, B., Acero, A., Amorim, A.F., Boustany, A., Canales Ramirez, C., Cardenas, G., Carpenter, K.E., de Oliveira Leite Jr., N., Di Natale, A., Fox, W., Fredou, F.L., Graves, J., Guzman-Mora, A., Viera Hazin, F.H., Juan Jorda, M., Kada, O., Minte Vera, C., Miyabe, N., Montano Cruz, R., Nelson, R., Oxenford, H., Salas, E., Schaefer, K., Serra, R., Sun, C., Teixeira Lessa, R.P., Pires Ferreira Travassos, P.E., Uozumi, Y. & Yanez, E.

Reviewer/s
Russell, B. & Polidoro, B.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is widespread and is abundant in many parts of its range. It is important in artisanal fisheries and is caught as bycatch in commercial fisheries, but landings are often mixed with Auxis rochei. It is listed as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Population

Population
This species (along with A. rochei) is considered to be extremely abundant in many parts of its range.

FAO does not report statistics for this species. Auxis spp. catches are generally not identified to species. Worldwide reported landings for Auxis spp show a gradual increase from 22,278 t in 1950 to 256,325 t in 2006 (FAO 2009).

In the Atlantic, most catches reported as A. thazard are probably A. rochei. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) includes statistics for Frigate Tuna (Auxis thazard) which are suspected to include both A. rochei and A. thazard. In the total catch of Frigate Tuna, the proportion of each of the two species is not known. Recent ICCAT estimates (ICCAT 2009) range from 21,000 (1987) to 3500 (2008) t. This species may be less abundant than A. rochei in the Atlantic.

In the Mediterranean, this is a common species in fisheries and abundance changes from place to place every year (Di Natale pers. comm. 2008). No assessment summary is given for this species from the Mediterranean. The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) is now starting a project to collect data on small tuna-like species in the Mediterranean (Di Natale pers. comm. 2008).

In the 1980s there was a marked increase in reported landings of all small tuna species combined compared to previous years, reaching a peak of about 139,412 t in 1988. Reported landings for the 1989–1995 period decreased to approximately 92,637 t, and since then values have oscillated, with a minimum of 69,895 t in 1993 and a maximum of 123,600 t in 2005. Declared catches were 79,228 t in 2006 and 74,087 t in 2007. A preliminary estimate of the total nominal landings of small tunas in 2008 is 55,876 t. The 2008 preliminary catch of small tuna amounted to 55,876 t, of which 6,018 t was Bullet Tuna (Auxis rochei) (STECF 2009). There are more than 10 species of small tunas, but only five of these account for about 88% of the total reported catch by weight. These five species are: Atlantic Bonito (Sarda sarda), Frigate Tuna (Auxis thazard) which may include some catches of Bullet Tuna (Auxis rochei), Little Tunny (Euthynnus alletteratus), King Mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), and Atlantic Spanish Mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus) (ICCAT 2009).

The catch for 2007 of this species in the Indian Ocean was 41,700 tonnes compared to 3,700 tonnes of A. rochei (IOTC 2007).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
This is a species with high commercial value. It is caught with beach seines, shore seines, drift nets, pursue seines, hook-and-line, gill nets and by trolling.

Overall trends in the small tuna catch may mask declining trends for individual species because annual landings are often dominated by the landings of a single species. These fluctuations seem to be partly related to unreported catches, as these species generally comprise part of the bycatch and are often discarded, and therefore do not reflect the real catch. It is commonly believed that catches of small tunas are strongly affected by unreported or underreported data in all areas. Small tunas are exploited mainly by coastal fisheries and often by artisanal fisheries, although substantial catches are also made, either as target species or as bycatch, by purse seiners, mid-water trawlers, handlines, troll lines, driftnets, surface drifting long-lines and small scale gillnets. Several recreational fisheries also target small tunas. Since 1991, the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) by tropical purse seiners may have led to an increase in fishing mortality of small tropical tuna species (STECF 2009). There is a general lack of information on the mortality of these species as bycatch, exacerbated by the confusion regarding species identification (ICCAT 2009).
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Least Concern (LC)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no known conservation measures for this species. It is a highly migratory species, Annex I of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (FAO Fisheries Department, 1994). No fishery management plan is currently in place except a prohibition on drift nets in EU countries.

Data on the catch composition, biology and trends are now available from the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, thanks to the ICCAT/GFCM joint expert group in 2008. More information, particularly on specific fishing effort, is needed from all areas. The small tuna fishery seems to be quite important for the coastal communities, both economically and as a source of proteins. The ICCAT Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) suggests that countries be requested to submit all available data to ICCAT as soon as possible, in order to be used in future meetings. No management recommendations have been presented by ICCAT due to the lack of proper data, historical series and analyses. ICCAT/SCRS, in 2008, reiterated its recommendation to carry out studies to determine the state of these stocks and the adoption of management solutions. ICCAT-SCRS in 2009 noted that there is an improvement in the availability of catch and biological data for small tuna species particularly in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. However, biological information, catch and effort statistics for small tunas remain incomplete for many of the coastal and industrial fishing countries. Given that, many of these species are of high importance to coastal fishermen, especially in some developing countries, both economically and often as a primary source of proteins, therefore the SCRS recommends that further studies be conducted on small tuna species due to the limits of information available (STECF 2009).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: highly commercial; gamefish: yes; price category: very high; price reliability: reliable: based on ex-vessel price for this species
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1992 FAO yearbook 1990. Fishery statistics. Catches and landings. FAO Fish. Ser. (38). FAO Stat. Ser. 70:(105):647 p. (Ref. 4931)
  • International Game Fish Association 1991 World record game fishes. International Game Fish Association, Florida, USA. (Ref. 4699)
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