Species Finder Species Posted Mar 13, 2000 Bonito Species Identification There are several species of bonito, including the Atlantic and Pacific bonito, Australian bonito, and striped bonito. Bonito are especially prevalent in North American waters. For this section, both the Atlantic and Pacific bonito will be the primary focus. Appearance The body of the Pacific bonito is cigar-shaped and somewhat compressed. The head is pointed and conical, and the mouth is large. The color is dark blue above, dusky on the sides becoming silvery below. There is a number of slanted darkish stripes along the back. Pacific bonito are the only tuna-like fishes on the California coast that have the slanted dark stripes on their backs. Atlantic bonito look very similar in shape and colors. Maximum Size Pacific bonito: Largest ever record was measured at a length of 40 inches (101.6 cm) and weighed 25 pounds (11.3 kg). Atlantic bonito: IGFA world record catch of 18 pounds 4 oz (8.2kg). Geographic Range Pacific bonito occur discontinuously from Chile to the Gulf of Alaska, with the greatest area of abundance in the northern hemisphere occurring in warm waters between Magdalena Bay, Baja California, and Point Conception, California. Atlantic bonito can be found along the shores of both sides of the Atlantic. In the Americas, bonito has just as wide a range as their Pacific counterparts, Distributed all along the coast from Eastern Canada, south through the Gulf of Mexico and further south to Venezuela. Habitat Bonitos are coastal fish that will inhabit areas close to shore, but have also been found in the open sea at depths of hundreds of feet. Food The preferred food of bonito appears to be small fishes, such as anchovies, menhaden, and sardines. Occasionally, they rely heavily upon squid in their daily diet. Spawning Given the large range of both the Atlantic and Pacific bonito, spawning season varies from region to region. The bulk of southern California spawning appears to take place from late January through May. The free floating eggs require about 3 days to hatch at average spring water temperatures. In more northern waters, spawning won't take place until late spring/early fall when it's warmer, especially for Atlantic bonito. Young fish resulting from local successful spawnings are usually first observed by the various live bait haulers when they are 6 to 10 inches (15-18 cm) long in the early summer months. These fish will often weigh 3 pounds (1.4 kg) or more by the fall of the year and by May of the following year many will weigh 6 or 7 pounds (2.7-3.2 kg). Information courtesy of California Department of Fish and Game and NOAA.