Locally known on the ABC Islands as Buní Wowo Grandi, our species of the week is the Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus) and is one of three tuna species found in the Dutch Caribbean. Bigeye Tuna are pelagic species, meaning that snorkelers and divers will rarely see them on the reef – they prefer the islands’ deeper, open ocean. They are an important source of food and revenue to all Dutch Caribbean Islands, both through commercial fishing and recreational game fishing. On Curaçao, they are primarily targeted by longline vessels and exported to the U.S.
Sadly, this tuna species has been overfished globally and is now listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. According to a recent assessment, the Southern Caribbean population is not yet over-exploited. The “yet” is very important. If managed sustainably, the Bigeye Tuna could thrive in Dutch Caribbean waters – the species has a lifespan of up to 12 years and reproduces quickly, with two spawning events a year during which females release around six million eggs. For those of you who enjoy fresh fish when eating out, give the Bigeye Tuna a break and enjoy some more sustainable choices such as Mahi Mahi, Wahoo and Dorado.
Thousands of different plants and animals call the Dutch Caribbean home and find haven in our protected areas. Some of those species we pay closer attention to as they are threatened with extinction, endemic to only one island or the region, or protected by international laws.