VIDEO: Skipjack Tuna Not Seen in Croatia Since 1945 Caught Near Prevlaka

By 5 November 2020
VIDEO: Skipjack Tuna Not Seen in Croatia Since 1945 Caught Near Prevlaka

As Morski/Jurica Gaspar writes on the 4th of November, 2020, a passionate fisherman from Grude in Croatia's southernmost county of Konavle recently caught an unusual species of tuna near Prevlaka, close to the Montenegrin border.

''I caught a skipjack tuna! I thought it was an Atlantic bonito before we hooked it. The cleaned one weighs 6.9 kg,'' Denis Markovic told Morski, and the experts were then asked to reveal a little more about this species, which lead to the realisation that this is an unusual discovery indeed in Croatian Adriatic. Namely, this type of tuna in has not been documented in Croatian waters since 1945!

''There was a whole school of them. One fell off,'' Denis Markovic said when detailing his experience, which he recorded on video.

''You can see the fight it put up and her behaviour. It was extremely strong. It was caught with the shore jigging technique. It is rough to the touch, so it surprised me at first,'' he said.

''First I called my friend Ivan Radovac to ask what kind of tuna this is, at first I thought it was an Atlantic bonito, to which he replied that no, it was indeed a tuna. After an interview for Morski, I was contacted by the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split, they confirmed the species to me, told that it isn't protected and that it's the only one recorded here since the 40s, which is now a museum specimen,'' explained Markovic, who is ready to give the fish he caught near Prevlaka to science.

Pero Ugarkovic is the editor of the portal and one of Croatia's greatest experts on underwater flora and fauna, he decided to explain more about this unusual catch down in Prevlaka.

''According to the description, I suspected that it could be skipjack tuna. After seeing photo, there was no doubt, it's the species I've been waiting for a long time to appear in the Croatian Adriatic.

Is this an Adriatic species?

''This species was officially discovered for the first time in the Adriatic by Dr. Soljan back in 1945 close to Trogir. He kept that fish in the Natural History Museum in Zagreb. Together with Dr. Dragicevic from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries, I tried to find out if there were any other finds like that in the Adriatic, and apart from that specimen, which is still in the museum, we were unable to obtain any other information.

This means that there is no other documented finding of skipjack tuna to date. It's possible that someone once caught one, but that they kept that information to themselves or among a close circle of people. I've heard of some alleged catches down in Montenegro, but without seeing an avtual specimen, a clear image or video, such a finding can only be considered indicative, or potential, but not official. It should also be noted that it isn't possible to know how many times skipjack tuna have entered the Croatian Adriatic without anyone ever seeing them.

Where does this species otherwise inhabit?

''This species lives all over the world, in tropical and subtropical conditions, it's one of the most important commercial and traditional fish species. Maybe more people in Croatia ate this type of tuna than, say, our own tuna, because if you look at the composition of canned tuna, you'll see that it contains it.

As for the Mediterranean, it appears exclusively in the western part of the sea, seasonally, mostly along the coast of Spain and sometimes on the western side of Italy. I've been following these topics on social media in all Mediterranean countries for a long time and I don't remember seeing this species more than 10 times. Just like in this case, they also appear in the western Mediterranean in the autumn period because the sea temperature is the most suitable for them then,'' Ugarkovic added.

Skipjack tuna are also commonly referred to as the ''tuna for the poor'' and it remains to be seen if any more of them will show up in Prevlaka or indeed anywhere else along the Croatian coast.

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