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In the Atlantic Ocean, bluefish is abundant and harvests are sustainable.
- In response to a declining bluefish stock, managers implemented harvest restrictions which helped rebuild the stock to a sustainable level a year ahead of schedule.
- Bluefish are an excellent source of selenium, niacin, and vitamin B12, and a good source of magnesium and potassium. For more on nutrition, see Nutrition Facts. (USDA)
- Bluefish is an excellent fish to eat and is marketed mostly fresh or smoked. The United States and Turkey account for the majority of worldwide bluefish catch.
Life History and Habitat:
Life history, including information on the habitat, growth, feeding, and reproduction of a species, is important because it affects how a fishery is managed.
- Geographic range: In temperate and tropical coastal marine waters throughout the world, except the eastern Pacific. From Maine through eastern Florida along the U.S. Atlantic coast.
- Habitat: Eggs are released into the open ocean. Larvae develop into juveniles near the surface in continental shelf waters and eventually move to estuarine and nearshore shelf habitats. Juveniles prefer sandy bottoms but will also inhabit mud, silt, or clay bottoms or vegetated areas. Adults use both inshore and offshore areas and favor warmer water.
- Life span: Moderately long - up to 14 years
- Food: Bluefish are voracious predators, feeding primarily on squid and fish, particularly menhaden and smaller fish such as silversides. Bluefish exhibit feeding behavior called the "bluefish blitz," where large schools of big fish attack bait fish near the surface, churning the water like a washing machine.
- Growth rate: Fast.
- Maximum size: Up to 31 pounds and 39 inches
- Reaches reproductive maturity: At age 2, between 15 and 20 inches in length
- Reproduction: Bluefish spawn multiple times throughout their spawning season. Depending on their size, females release 400,000 to 2,000,000 eggs.
- Spawning season: Spring and summer
- Spawning grounds: In the western North Atlantic Ocean, offshore from Massachusetts to Florida
- Migrations: Bluefish migrate seasonally, moving north in spring and summer as water temperatures rise and moving south in autumn and winter to waters in the South Atlantic Bight.
- Predators: Sharks, tunas, and billfishes are the only predators large and fast enough to prey on adult bluefish. Oceanic birds prey on juvenile bluefish.
- Commercial or recreational interest: Both
- Distinguishing characteristics: Bluefish are blue-green on the back and silvery on the sides and belly. They have a pointed snout and a prominent jaw, with sharp, compressed teeth.