Age and growth of Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus (Osteichthyes: Thunnidae), in the Mediterranean Sea

Santamaria N., Bello G., Corriero A., Deflorio M., Vassallo-Agius R., Bok T., ...More

JOURNAL OF APPLIED ICHTHYOLOGY, vol.25, no.1, pp.38-45, 2009 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


The objective of the study was to describe the biometry of Mediterranean bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, the biology of which is not yet well understood. A total of 504 specimens was collected from 1998 to 2005 in the central part of the Mediterranean basin. They were sexed and measured; fork lengths (FL) ranged from 51.0 to 255.0 cm while body weights (W) ranged from 2.6 to 247.0 kg. The first spiniform ray (spine) of the first dorsal fin was removed and cross-sectioned near the condyle base in order to count annuli for age estimation. The regression coefficient (b) of the female FL-W relationship was significantly higher than that of the male, and both sexes displayed a negatively allometric growth (b < 3); male regression equation: ln W = -2.942 + 2.730 ln FL; female regression equation: ln W = -3.660 + 2.878 ln FL. Based on counts of the translucent zones in the sections of the first ray of the first dorsal fin, estimated ages ranged from 1 to 15 years for males and 1 to 14 years for females. The correlation between the spine ray (R) and FL fit the allometric model best; the R-FL regression equations of the two sexes did not differ significantly and the overall equation was: ln FL = 3.721 + 0.851 ln R. Due to the R-FL allometric correlation, estimates of fork lengths at previous ages, FLi, were back-calculated with a body proportional hypothesis. Von Bertalanffy growth equations were derived from both observed and back-calculated FLs-at-age, which did not differ significantly. Moreover, no significant difference was found between the growth equations of the two sexes; the overall equation was FLt = 373.08 [1-e(-0.07(t + 1.76))]. Weight-at-age values were derived from the von Bertalanffy predicted FLs-at-age by the FL-W correlation equations for males and females. The paper represents the first comprehensive study on the biometry, including age and growth, of bluefin tuna captured in the Mediterranean Sea.