The tuna name encompasses a number of different fishes. Some, such as bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), albacore or white tuna (Thunnus albacares), belong to the genus Thunnus; there other tuna with similar characteristics, such as barrel (Katsuwonus pelamis) and Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda).
Tunas have a fusiform body, triangular pyramid-shaped heads, and a small mouths in relation to the size of their skulls; skin color varies depending on species; small and smooth scales cover hard, rough skin. Tunas have two rigid, robust dorsal fins, as well as an imposing arched tail that ends at two points and lends tunas a crescent-like appearance. Colors range from brown to yellow.
Their body shape allows tuna to swim long distances and reach high speeds. They form large schools and swim in parallel, leaving very little space between individuals.
Spring and summer are breeding season, with species-specific variations.
Mexican tuna fisheries harvest three varieties: yellowfin, bluefin and bigeye. The most important is yellowfin, which annually accounts for as much as 90% of fishing activity. Most production occurs from March to August and in December.
Entire tuna schools are caught in nets, then frozen and distributed to processing plants.
Yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and barrel (Katsuwonus pelamis) rod-and-reel fisheries in the Baja California region are the first to have been certified in accordance with MSC worldwide standards.
Tuna is rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals; the flesh is low in saturated fat and has a high Omega 3 oil content, important for reducing blood cholesterol; as well as niacin, a vitamin that promotes breathing processes. Tuna also contains vitamin A, the main source of good vision; it enhances skin and hair health and strengthens the immune system.
Tuna also contains vitamin D, which helps strengthen bones and teeth and prevents rickets.
Tuna meat is mostly intended for canning in water or oil. Mexicans favor canned tuna for reasons of taste, economics and convenience and it is used as a stuffing for torta sandwiches as well as tostadas; in the preparation of cold salads, seafood pancakes and croquettes, among other uses.
Tuna canning by-products are processed to manufacture flour that is a pet food ingredient.
Fresh tuna can be found in local markets, but Mexicans do not generally favor its taste. That said, more cutting edge Mexican chefs are altering this perception and in communities where tuna is harvested, it is eaten roasted or marinated in tomato sauce.


Tuna in amaranth crust