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Atlantic bonito

Bonito del Norte is the Spanish name for Thunnus alalunga

The Atlantic bonito, Sarda sarda is a large mackerel-like fish of the family Scombridae. It is common in shallow waters of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, where it is an important commercial and game fish.



Atlantic bonito belong to a group which have the dorsal fins very near, or separated by a narrow interspace. It has the body completely scaled with those scales in the pectoral fin area and the lateral line usually larger in size. Bonitos (fishes in the genus Sarda) differ from tuna by their compressed bodies, their lack of teeth on the roof of the mouth, and certain differences in colouration.

Atlantic bonito share Atlantic waters with the striped bonito, Sarda orientalis (the Atlantic population of which is sometimes considered a separate species, Sarda velox). The striped bonito has been taken on the Atlantic coast as far north as Cape Cod. It is similar in its habits, but somewhat smaller than the more common Atlantic bonito. The Atlantic bonito can be distinguished from its relative by its dark oblique stripes on the back and with a maxillary only about half as long as the head; whereas the striped bonito has striping on its topside nearly horizontal and a maxillary more than half the length of the head.

Atlantic bonito grow up to 75 cm (30 in) and weigh 5-6 kg (10 to 12 pounds) at this size. The world record is 18 pounds and 4 ounces, and was caught in the Azores.[1]


It is a strong swimmer. Normally it travels in fairly large schools and is common offshore in the vicinity of New York City where it is known as "skipjack" because of its habit of jumping from the water. (However, the name "skipjack" more commonly refers to the skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis.) The spawning season is June, and specimens 12-15 cm (5-6 inches) long are taken in September off Long Island.


Atlantic bonito eat mackerel, menhaden, alewives, silversides, sand lance, and other fishes, as well as squid.

Fishing technique

Bonito is often captured by tuna fishermen when trolling for bigger game. Also it is taken in larger numbers in pound nets. Thought by most fishermen[who?] to be inferior to tuna as a food fish, possibly because of the greater oiliness, it is sometimes used as bait.

As food

Bonito is a popular food fish in the Mediterranean; its flesh is similar to tuna and mackerel, and its size is intermediate between the two.[2]

Bonito under 1 kg (2.2 lb) or so (called palamut in Turkish) are often grilled as steaks. Larger bonito (torik in Turkish) are cut into steaks and preserved as lakerda.[2] Bonito is also canned; but canned Bonito del Norte is not bonito, but albacore tuna.

In Algeria and Spain, it is often prepared as escabeche, which preserves it for about a week.[2] Bonito may also be baked and served cold.[3]


  1. ^ Brant, Ken (2005-05-02). "Atlantic Bonito". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/fishing/news/story?page=f_enc_AtlanticBonito. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  2. ^ a b c Alan Davidson, Mediterranean Seafood, Penguin, 1972. ISBN 0-14-046174-4, p. 123
  3. ^ "Palamut papaz yahnisi", Davidson, p. 359


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