Albacore are large marine fish in the tuna family. They prefer warm to temperate waters as a general rule, although they will range further in offshore waters. The fish are of high economic value to several nations, and are sold both fresh and canned around the world. Many consumers favor the creamy white flesh of the albacore over some other tuna species, which tend to be darker and more oily. Most fishmongers and stores carry this fish in both fresh and canned forms, with fresh albacore usually coming in the form of tuna steaks.
The name originates from al-bakura, an Arabic word used to describe the fish historically. The scientific name is Thunnus alalunga, and albacore is also known by a variety of other colorful names, including pigfish, tunny, German bonito, and bastard albacore. The extremely long pectoral fins of the fish have contributed to another common name, longfin tuna or simply longfin. Generally, the fish is clearly labeled as either albacore or white meat tuna, especially when it is canned.
The back of an albacore is metallic blue, helping it to blend in with the ocean when viewed from above. The fish have silvery white bellies for camouflage from below. The tail is deeply forked, and resembles a crescent moon. Allowed to mature, the fish can get as large as 132 pounds (60 kilograms). Its diet consists of crustaceans, squid, and other fish. Unlike some species of tuna, albacore do not intermingle with dolphins very frequently, making it a much more dolphin-friendly fish to consume.
The fish are abundantly distributed in the world's oceans as well as the Mediterranean. Many nations fish for albacore, both with nets and long lines. It is generally viewed as a sustainable fish option, although more information about global populations is needed to confirm the sustainability of albacore fishing. Some populations appear to be declining due to overfishing, raising concerns about regulation of the albacore industry.
Unfortunately for consumers who favor the fine flesh of the albacore tuna, the species is highly prone to bioaccumulation. They have much higher levels of mercury than other fish, including other species of tuna. Mature albacore caught on long lines can carry dangerously high levels. Pregnant women and children should avoid consuming more than one serving per week, and even this may later prove to be excessive.