Skip to main content

Types Of Tuna

Tuna is a highly prized seafood worldwide, consistently ranking among the top three most popular species in North America every year. As you’ll learn in this guide, this popularity is due to its great taste, nutritional benefits, and widespread availability in all oceans.

There are 15 species of tuna. In the commercial tuna market, there are 7 “main” species and 8 “minor” species. Here we focus on the seven main types of tuna: Skipjack, Albacore, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Atlantic Bluefin, Pacific Bluefin, and Southern Bluefin.


The commercial fishing market is broken into the main and minor species of tuna listed below. The eight minor species are still caught commercially and recreationally but not nearly in the volume as the main seven.

7 Main Types 8 Minor Types
Skipjack Black Skipjack
Albacore Blackfin Tuna
Yellowfin Bullet
Bigeye Frigate
Atlantic Bluefin Kawakawa
Pacific Bluefin Longtail or Tongol
Southern Bluefin Little tunny


According to the most recent data from ISS Foundation, in 2022, the total catch of main commercial tuna types was 5.2 million tons. You can see below that skipjack and yellowfin account for a whopping 87% of all tuna caught in the world.


The below figures show the dramatic differences in size between the main tuna types. For example, you’d need to catch 27 Skipjack to equal one Atlantic Bluefin!

Tuna Species Maximum Weight Maximum Length
Skipjack Tuna 75 lbs 3.5 ft
Albacore Tuna 90 lbs 5 ft
Yellowfin Tuna 400 lbs 7 ft
Bigeye Tuna 400 lbs 8 ft
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna 2,000 lbs 10.5 ft
Pacific Bluefin Tuna 990 lbs 10 ft
Southern Bluefin Tuna 1,210 lbs 8 ft

Note: these figures are estimates and will vary based on age, location, and the individual fish.


Here we profile each of the seven major tuna species in greater detail.


Latin Name: Katsuwonus pelamis

Maximum Weight and Length: 75 lbs, 3.5 ft

Habitat: Tropical and warm temperate waters worldwide, but mainly in the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Oceans. They’re often found in large schools near the surface.

Distinguishing Features:

  • Iridescent blue with black markings on the back
  • Bullet-shaped body
  • Tender meat, often used for canning
  • Smaller size compared to other tuna species
  • Learn more about Skipjack

Taste and Texture: Skipjack has a stronger, fishier flavor and a softer texture than most other species.


Latin Name: Thunnus albacares

Maximum Weight and Length: 400 lbs, 7 ft

Habitat: Tropical and subtropical waters worldwide, often near the surface or associated with floating objects. It can be found in warm currents in the Mediterranean, primarily in the eastern basin.

Distinguishing Features:

  • A yellow dorsal fin and yellow sides
  • Long second dorsal fin
  • Dark blue-black back and silver-white belly
  • Moderately large eyes
  • Yellow finlets on the tail
  • Also known as ‘ahi’ (Bigeye is also sometimes called ahi)

Taste and Texture: Yellowfin tuna has a bolder flavor and softer texture than albacore. This makes it ideal where a richer tuna taste is desired, such as sandwiches or pasta dishes.


Latin Name: Thunnus alalunga

Maximum Weight and Length: 90 lbs, 5 ft

Habitat: Temperate and tropical waters worldwide, often preferring deep offshore areas.

Distinguishing Features:

  • Elongate, fusiform body with a conical snout
  • Large eyes
  • Remarkably long pectoral fins
  • Deep blue dorsally and shades of silvery white ventrally
  • Unique diet preference for cephalopods (such as octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish)

Taste and Texture: Milder flavor than most tunas and meaty texture makes it suitable for many dishes, from salads to casseroles.


Latin Name: Thunnus obesus

Maximum Weight and Length: 400 lbs, 8 ft

Habitat: Deeper, warm waters in tropical and subtropical regions, often near islands or seamounts.

Distinguishing Features:

  • Large, deep-bodied, streamlined fish
  • Large head and eyes
  • Very long pectoral fins
  • 13 or 14 dorsal spines
  • Unique physiology allowing them to forage in deeper, colder waters
  • Also known as ‘ahi’ (Yellowfin is also sometimes called ahi)

Taste and Texture: Rich, sweet flavor with a clean, less “fishy” profile. The texture is firm and tender, ideal for searing or raw preparations.


Latin Name: Thunnus thynnus

Maximum Weight and Length: 2,000 lbs, 10.5 ft

Habitat: Western and Eastern Atlantic Ocean, with the Mediterranean as a significant spawning ground. This species migrates long distances and is often found in cooler waters. 

Distinguishing Features:

  • Distinguishing Features:
  • Dark blue coloring on the top and a gray or shimmering white coloring below
  • Gold shimmer to the entire body
  • Dark red meat
  • Tips of pectoral fins do not reach the front of the second dorsal fin

Taste and Texture: Mild, buttery, and savory flavor, with a subtle sweetness. The texture is firm and smooth, often enjoyed raw in sushi and sashimi.


Latin Name: Thunnus orientalis

Maximum Weight and Length: 990 lbs, 10 ft

Habitat: The Pacific Ocean, ranging from east to west, and known for long-distance migrations.

Distinguishing Features:

  • Black or dark blue dorsal sides with a grayish-green iridescence
  • Small eyes compared to other tuna species
  • Pectoral fin tips do not reach the front of the second dorsal fin

Taste and Texture: Pacific Bluefin has a distinct, succulent flavor with an oceanic essence. Its texture is firm and slightly chewy.


Latin Name: Thunnus maccoyii

Maximum Weight and Length: 1,210 lbs, 8 ft

Habitat: The southern hemisphere’s temperate and cold waters, often found in the open ocean.

Distinguishing Features:

  • Found in open southern Hemisphere waters mainly between 30°S and 50°S
  • Maintains body core temperature up to 10°C above ambient temperature
  • Unique respiratory and circulatory adaptations for high metabolic demand

Taste and Texture: Southern Bluefin is buttery, smooth, and has a melt-in-your-mouth tender feel because it is marbled with fat.


There are many methods used to catch tuna, some more sustainable than others. Pole & line, troll, or handline are considered sustainable fishing methods. Nets, purse seines, and long lines are not considered sustainable fishing because they create wasteful “bycatch”, which refers to other seafood species inadvertently caught in the process.

Sustainable Fishing

  • Trolling entails pulling artificial lures, or jigs, behind a slow-moving boat. Typically, vessels set up their boats with around 10 to 20 fishing lines, each rigged with a barbless jig designed to attract the specific tuna species being targeted.
  • Pole & line or handline fishing, an age-old practice, involves catching tuna from a bait boat. Fishermen and women use live sardines, mackerel, and anchovies as bait, tossing them overboard to attract schools of tuna and induce a feeding frenzy. Using a pole & line, the fisher then individually catches and hauls the tuna onto their boat.

Wasteful Fishing 

  • Purse Seine fishing with Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) involves the use of radio-beaconed floating devices to attract various fish species, not just the targeted tuna. Initially, small fish and juvenile tuna gather around the FAD, which in turn attracts larger fish, including sailfish, swordfish, sharks, and turtles. Unfortunately, many of these non-target species are caught and can die if they are not released quickly and carefully. This practice not only leads to the loss of juvenile tuna, affecting the food supply, but also disrupts the ocean’s ecosystem balance and poses a threat to local communities’ food security.
  • Long-line fishing, the predominant method for catching albacore globally, involves using extensive lines that lure various ocean species besides tuna. Unfortunately, this method also results in wasteful bycatch mortality, including endangered sea turtles, sharks, and other fish, leading to an imbalance in the ocean ecosystem.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends adults to eat 2 to 3 servings of a variety of cooked fish, or about 8 to 12 ounces, per week. Tuna, in particular, is rich in protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, potassium, and EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Protein is essential for building strong bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. Vitamin D is critical for bone health and supports the immune system. Vitamin B12 is necessary for red blood cells, nerve function, and DNA production. EPA and DHA omega-3s reduce inflammation and improve overall blood flow. Learn more about how tuna is good for you.


Most canned or pouched tuna comes from skipjack, yellowfin, or albacore tuna. Light or chunk light tuna is typically a mix of skipjack and yellowfin, sometimes including tongol or bigeye tuna. Albacore, known for its light-colored flesh, firm texture, and mild flavor, is considered white tuna, including solid white and chunk white. Some people prefer it over light tuna for dishes that require a milder flavor and a firmer, more steak-like fish. The National Fisheries Institute states that about 70% of canned and pouched tuna consumed in the United States is skipjack (or a small amount of yellowfin tuna), with around 30% being albacore.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many types of tuna are there?

There are 15 different types of tuna. In the commercial tuna market, there are 7 “main” species and 8 “minor” species. The main types are: Skipjack, Albacore, Yellowfin, Bigeye, Atlantic Bluefin, Pacific Bluefin, and Southern Bluefin. The minor species are: Black Skipjack, Blackfin, Bullet, Frigate, Kawakawa, Longtail or Tongol, Little Tunny, and Slender.

Which type of tuna tastes best?

There’s no one-type-is-best answer. The three main types of canned tuna–albacore, yellowfin, and skipjack–offer unique tastes. Depending on your recipe, you may prefer albacore, which has the mildest flavor and a meaty texture, yellowfin, which has a richer flavor and softer texture, or skipjack, which has the most robust, fishy flavor and is also a soft texture.

What is the rarest type of tuna?

The rarest type of tuna is generally considered to be the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus). This species is highly sought after, especially in Japan for sushi and sashimi dishes, and so has faced significant overfishing, leading to a sharp decline in population numbers. Conservation efforts have been implemented to protect and rebuild the population of this species.



Use our product locator to find the perfect salmon, tuna, crab or other seafood products from Chicken of the Sea.

  • Products
  • Choose Your Product

Stories Like This


Or copy link