Guinea pig among the fish
Bonito grows up to 28 inches (70 cm) and lives close to the coasts – predominantly of the Black Sea and Mediterranean. The fishing season for bonito is the spring, summer and winter.
Italian: palamida, palamita, tombarello, strombo, cuvarita
Croatian: palamida, pastirica, polanda, šarican
Slovene: palamida, polanda
French: bonite, pelamide, bonicou
Spanish: bonito, bonitol
Portuguese: bonito, serra
Greek: pamalida, toriki
Turkish: alamut, torik
German: Pelamide, Bonito
“Tuna” from The Black Sea
The Black Sea is an important habitat and so well suited to the bonito, a dark blue fish identified by the 10 to 12 parallel black stripes running from the neck towards its back and tail. The last and longest stripe runs right along the middle of its sides before splitting at its strong tail.
Turkey records the highest annual catch in the entire Mediterranean. Since the prevailing method of fishing bonito employs nets with a particularly small mesh, too many sexually immature specimens end up getting caught, so population levels can’t be maintained, let alone increased.
Big fish eat little fish
Its eyes are relatively small, at least when compared with other tuna, but its snout is no less predatory. Even the youngest specimens have tiny pointy teeth, which take firm hold of the prey before it is swallowed by the ravenous tongue. Bonito’s usual victims are small blue fish, such as anchovies and sardines, but also mackerel and horse mackerel.
Microchip-equipped bonito specimens have been measured to swim large distances of several hundred miles. While there have been recorded migrations from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, migrations are generally limited to the Mediterranean, with significant subpopulations migrating from the Black Sea to the Strait of Gibraltar.
Bonito in the research labs
Its rapid growth and sexual maturity are two of the reasons the bonito serves as a guinea pig used in research on hormonal insemination. Researchers can quickly obtain critical data and apply their findings to specimens of the far more commercially interesting bluefin tuna.
Bonito cutlets in tomato sauce Polanda, in the Blue book, page 150