Atlantic bluefin tuna

Sea life: Bluefin tuna

A truly majestic fish
A truly majestic fish

I have eulogised – a deliberate choice of word – the bluefin tuna at length on this blog, and others have done so in print, and far more eloquently than I. We were extremely, extremely fortunate to encounter a lonely Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) on a dive around the Inland Sea on Gozo, Malta. He stayed with us for nearly half an hour, constantly circling, and looked as if he wanted to be fed, making munching motions every time he came near one of us. He had probably escaped from one of the nearby fish farms (more on those later, but there’s some information here to get you started), and had perhaps learned to associate divers with food.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus

These creatures can accelerate as fast as a Porsche, and we were able to observe a couple of times how he went from languid cruising to high speed fish chasing mode. We both felt that we could have stayed with him for much longer, but he left when we swam into a cave.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus

I found this an incredibly sad experience, because this schooling fish is meant to travel en masse with his brothers and sisters, but here he was alone, and seemed lost. It was also a mountain top experience (how I hate that expression) for me – I’d just read Song for the Blue Ocean and Tuna, and my head was filled with facts about these beautiful fish. Seeing one in the flesh was almost too much to contain within the confines of my regulator.

Looking like mercury with Tony's video light on him
Looking like mercury with Tony's video light on him

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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