Other Nameslittle tuna, Atlantic little tunny, false albacore, bonito; French: thonine de l’Atlantique; Italian: tonnetto dell’ Atlantico, tonnella sanguinaccio, alletterato; Japanese: yaito, suma-rui; Portuguese: merma; Spanish: bacoreta del Atlántico, merma, barrilete, carachana pintada.
IdentificationThe little tunny has a scattering of dark spots resembling fingerprints between the pectoral and the ventral fins, as well as wavy, "wormlike" markings on the back. These markings are above the lateral line within a well-marked border and never extend farther forward than about the middle of the first dorsal fin.
The spots and the markings are unlike those of any other Atlantic species. The pectoral and the ventral fins are short and broad, and the two dorsal fins are separated at the base by a small space. The body has no scales except on the corselet and along the lateral line, and there is no air bladder. Unlike the black skipjack, it has no teeth on the vomer.
The little tunny is often confused with the Atlantic bonito, the skipjack tuna, the frigate mackerel, and the bullet mackerel. There are, however, differences among these species. The Atlantic bonito has a lower, sloping first dorsal fin. The frigate and the bullet mackerel have the dorsal fins set apart. The skipjack tuna has broad, straight stripes on the belly and lacks markings on the back.