- Published: 01 February 2010
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Irene Foster, age 11, of Victoria, B.C., for her question;
Does a tuna fish have scales?
The tuna fish has a slippery, slimy skin ‑ all the better for sliding fast through the water. If you stroke him, his skin foels smooth to the touch and you would think he had no scales at all. But he has. They are very small and not on the surface. The little scales of the tuna fish are buried deep in his slippery skin. He is a member of the mackerel clan, cousin to the broad billed swordfish, the spearfish and the marlin. As fish go, this is not a very scaly family. Some members have no scales at all, others have scales too small to be noticed.
The tuna family rates as one of the most important of the food fishes. The meat is rich and oily. It arrives at the kitchen in cans all ready to be used in a variety of delicious recipes. The nourishing meat is full of body building proteins and sunshine vitamins are wrapped in the oily goodness. The biggest and perhaps the most tasty of the tunas is the tunny, or bluefin. Though Andy finds the meat of the yellow fin and the skipjack just as good. The tunny hatches in the waters of the east Atlantic off Gibraltar. The two smaller tunas begin life off the west coast of Central America or around the south sea islands. These fellows usually keep to the Pacific waters. The big tunny, ten feet long and weighing three quarters of a ton, wanders the oceans of the whole world.
All tuna fish are built for speed. The big tunny is a perfect job of streamlining. His powerful body is gracefully tapered towards the head and tail. The eyes and even the gill covers lay flat to the smooth surface. The big beauty is blue above, grey spotted with silver below and glistening all. over.
The tuna is a restless fish, one of. the most active creatures in the ocean. Hr. never stops swimming, day or night. Cruising speed is 9 miles an hour, full speed is 40 miles an hour. The big beauty likes company and usually travels with a school of friends and relatives.
Activity burns up food and the tuna is one of the hungriest of the hungry fishes in the sea. A school of them, preying on smaller fish, has been compared to a wolf pack. Activity also generates heat. The tuna is one fish whose body temperature is warmer than the water.
Commercial fishing for tuna is done with nets, harpoons or with hooked poles, Big game fishermen go after the powerful fellow with rod and reel. Landing him is a man‑sized job, for the mighty fish fights with all his strength. Naturally, a fisherman is proud of such a catch. He may call his trophy a horse mackerel, which is fair enough. For the tuna is related to the mackerel and shaped like a mackerel ‑ a horse sized mackerel