A member of the Scombridae family of tuna and mackerel, the albacore is an excellent light-tackle gameﬁsh. It is called true albacore in some places, not to be confused with false albacore or little tunny.
IdentificationThe albacore has long pectoral ﬁns that reach to a point beyond the anal ﬁn, as well as small ﬁnlets on both the back and the belly that extend from the anal ﬁn to the tail. The albacore is colored dark blue, shading to greenish-blue near the tail, and is silvery white on the belly. A metallic or iridescent cast covers the entire body. The dorsal ﬁnlets are yellowish, except for the white trailing edge of the tail, and the anal ﬁnlets are silvery or dusky.
SizeThe average weight for albacore is between 10 and 25 pounds. The all-tackle record is 88 pounds, 2 ounces, although commercially caught ﬁsh have weighed as much as 93 pounds. The albacore can grow to 5 feet in length.
Life history/BehaviorA schooling ﬁsh, the albacore is migratory and pelagic; that is, it lives and feeds in the open sea. It roams widely, varying in location from within a few miles of shore to far offshore, as currents and water temperatures dictate. Its availability can change widely from year to year. Albacore have been described as one of the world’s fastest migrant fish, and tagging studies have tracked them across entire oceans.
Albacore spawn from July through October along the west coast of North America and in the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere of the mid-Paciﬁc.
Food and feeding habitsThe albacore diet consists of ﬁsh, squid, and crustaceans. Albacore feed in schools, which sometimes consist of other tuna-family members, and these schools are typically found around ﬂoating objects such as sargassum. Although they will feed at middle depths, they ordinarily feed close to the surface.
Other Nameslongﬁn tuna, long-ﬁnned tunny, longﬁn, true albacore, albacore tuna, albie, and pigﬁsh; French: germon; Hawaiian: áhi pahala; Japanese: binchô, binnaga; Portuguese: albacora; Spanish: albacora, atún blanco.
DistributionAlbacore are found worldwide in tropical and temperate seas, including the Mediterranean, but they also make seasonal migrations into colder zones such as New England, southern Brazil, and the northern Gulf of Mexico.
In the western Atlantic, albacore range from Nova Scotia to Brazil, although they rarely range north of New York and are absent from the Straits of Florida; in the Paciﬁc Ocean, they range from Alaska to Mexico. Albacore are abundant in the Paciﬁc but less common in the Atlantic.