Pacific Bonito
Sarda chiliensis

Physical Description

  • Large fish with compressed, tuna-shaped body and a pointed, conical head with downward-slanting mouth
  • Blue to violet coloration on back, with ten or eleven silver-blue stripes on back running obliquely from the back fin forward
  • Short, long, black dorsal or tail fin that runs almost whole length of fish
  • Can be up to 40 inches long, and weighing up to 25 pounds


  • From Alaska to tip of Baja California, Mexico
  • Not common north of Point Conception


  • Found anywhere from inshore to about 100 miles offshore
  • Can be in depths of 300-600 feet


  • They reach sexual maturity at age 2
  • Spawning generally from late January to May
  • Eggs float freely in top 300 feet of water
  • Eggs usually hatch within 4-5 days after spawning


  • Small schooling fishes, such as sardines and anchovies, squid, shrimp


  • Larger fish such as tuna, as well as other bonito
  • Humans (fished for sport and for seafood)

Interesting Facts

  • Bonito populations heavily fluctuate with warm and cold water, which often fluctuates with atmospheric fluctuations like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
  • Unlike most fishes, they have no swim bladder.
  • They often swim in large schools.

Sources: California Sea Grant; FishBase; California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo: Paula Selby

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