Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Spindrift for Schools

By  Dona Bertarelli

I want to thank all our partner schools, in France and Switzerland, and the 2,000 students who are following us. Whenever I can, I will be answering your many questions throughout this journey around the planet, a journey that we are taking together to discover the wonders of our world.
With all the crew of Spindrift 2, through our observations and our encounters, not only with marine life, but also with the islands and peninsulas that we pass, with the meteorological phenomena we experience, and with the birds and the stars that accompany us during our voyage, we will help you to live this adventure, like Phileas Fogg in Jules Verne’s famous book. We are calling our Spindrift for Schools series - Out of the Classroom.

"Isn't it strange that we still haven't seen any flying fish?" I ask Seb Audigane, who is at his post at the traveller, ready to ease off the sail immediately if the wind picks up. "It won't be long," he replies.

The water temperature indicator shows 22 degrees Celsius. Is it too hot or too cold for these small fish, whose wings allow them to leap out of the crest of the waves and fly several hundred metres on the water's surface?

We've not seen many animals since we set off.

"We've not even seen any dolphins, yet we saw some at every training session on Spindrift 2," I tell Seb.

"We're going too fast for the dolphins," he replies. "Only bluefin tuna can swim this fast."

But unfortunately there aren't many bluefin tuna, so they are a rare sight indeed. The bluefin tuna are currently listed as endangered species, so protecting them should be everyone's responsibility. We should stop eating them to help stocks recover so that our grandchildren can see them, and perhaps also eat them.

At the current rate of consumption, there'll be none left. Not even in aquariums, because these migratory fish travel hundreds of miles, crossing oceans at speeds of 50 mph.

The word tuna is derived from the Greek thuno, meaning to rush.

With torpedo-shaped streamlined bodies, Atlantic bluefin tuna are built for speed and endurance. They can even retract their fins to reduce drag, enabling them to swim through the water at incredibly high speeds. They are top ocean predators and voracious feeders, eating herring, mackerel, hake, squid and crustaceans. Unlike most fish they are warm-blooded and can regulate their temperature to keep core muscles warm during ocean crossings.

Their incredibly beautiful metallic blue topside and silver-white bottom help camouflage them from above and below, protecting them from killer whales and sharks, their main predators.

At 2-3 metres long, the Atlantic Bluefin is the largest species of tuna. One was reported to be 6 metres long! It’s incredible to think that they can dive deeper than 1 km.

When Bluefin is prepared as sushi it is one of the most valuable forms of seafood in the world. The species is listed as ‘near threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list. So let’s all think twice before buying some at our local markets. They might not be as cute as dolphins, but they are worth protecting!​