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Pacific Wahoo

Acanthocybium solanderi

Illustration of a Pacific Wahoo

Also Known As

  • Kingfish
  • Peto
  • Guarapucu
  • Ono
  • Thazard batard
  • Wahoo

U.S. wild-caught Pacific wahoo is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Population

The population level is unknown, but presumed stable.

Fishing Rate

At recommended level.

Habitat Impacts

Fishing gear used to catch Pacific wahoo rarely contacts the ocean floor and has minimal impacts on habitat.

Bycatch

There is no directed fishery for Pacific wahoo. Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch in fisheries that incidentally catch this species.

  • Availability

    Year-round, with peaks during summer and fall.

  • Source

    U.S. wild-caught from Hawaii, U.S. Pacific Island territories, and on the high seas.

  • Taste

    Lean and mild.

  • Texture

    Firm with a large, circular flake.

  • Color

    Raw meat is pale pink. It turns white when cooked.

  • Health Benefits

    Wahoo is an excellent source of low-fat protein.

The U.S. Fishery

Fishery Management

Harvest

  • Commercial fishery:
    • U.S. commercial fisheries in the western and central Pacific harvest the majority of U.S.-caught wahoo.
    • In 2016, commercial landings of Pacific wahoo from the Pacific Islands totaled 1.2 million pounds and were valued at $3.2 million. The majority of the catch comes from Hawaii.
  • Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
    • There is no directed fishery for Pacific wahoo, but they may be incidentally harvested in troll and longline fisheries. 
    • Troll and longlines do not contact the ocean floor, so there are no impacts to habitat. 
    • U.S. pelagic longline fishermen who may incidentally catch wahoo are required to use specific tools and handling techniques to mitigate bycatch of turtles and marine mammals.
    • Time-area closures also limit and prevent interactions between pelagic longline gear and non-target species.
    • Onboard observers are required in some fisheries to record any interactions with sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals.
  • Recreational fishery:
    • In 2016, recreational landings of Pacific wahoo totaled more than 1.07 million pounds.

The Science

Population Status

  • The population status and fishing rate of Pacific wahoo are unknown because scientists do not formally assess wahoo populations.
  • Scientists assume wahoo populations are stable because they are highly productive and widely distributed throughout the tropical/subtropical Pacific.
  • Wahoo can handle relatively high fishing rates, but precautionary management seeks to maintain current harvest levels.

Location

  • Wahoo are found in tropical and subtropical waters around the world.
  • They are found in tropical waters year-round but are also found in higher latitudes during the summer. 

Habitat

  • Wahoo live near the surface and are frequently found alone or in small, loosely connected groups rather than in compact schools.
  • They may also be found near banks, pinnacles, and natural debris drifting in the ocean. 

Physical Description

  • Wahoo are steel blue above and pale blue below.
  • They’re covered with small scales and have a series of 25 to 30 irregular blackish-blue vertical bars on their sides. 
  • Wahoo have large mouths with strong, triangular, compressed, and finely serrated teeth. 
  • Their snouts are about as long as the rest of their heads. 

Biology

  • Wahoo grow fast, up to 8 feet and 158 pounds, though they are commonly between 3.3 and 5.4 feet long.
  • Males are able to reproduce when they reach 2.8 feet in length, and females when they reach 3.3 feet. They’re usually about 1 year old at this stage.
  • Wahoo spawn year-round in tropical waters and during the summer in higher latitudes, including Hawaii. 
  • Individual wahoo spawn multiple times throughout the spawning season. Females release millions of eggs per year to compensate for eggs that might not survive to adulthood.
  • Wahoo mainly feed on fish, including frigate mackerel, butterfish, porcupine fish, and round herring. They compete with tuna for the same kind of food.
  • Scientists have theorized that a wahoo is able to eat fish larger than itself by using its sharp teeth to render large prey into bite-size pieces. 
  • A number of predators feed on juvenile wahoo.

Last updated: 03/02/2018