Superfish: Bluefin Tuna

Evolution went overboard with the bluefin tuna.  It can weigh in at 1,500 pounds, span ten feet, move up to 50 miles per hour, range from one end of the north Atlantic to the other, and from the surface to 3,000 feet deep.  It is perhaps the largest, fastest, strongest and most migratory bony fish in the sea.

In fact, if being the ultimate fish isn’t enough, it even steals the thunder of marine mammals.  It is warm blooded — a singular stroke of adaptation that allows it to hunt waters across a staggering range of temperatures, from the tropics to the sub-Arctic. No other fish holds that claim.

The bluefin is stoked for survival. But the formidable size and musculature that has long made it such a success is fast becoming its downfall. The demand for fresh tuna has driven it to the brink of extinction. Recently, one bluefin sold for a record $738,000: ounce for ounce, the same price as silver.

Fast and furious, the wild bluefin tuna has always been an elusive quarry for filmmakers. Few have filmed them in the wild. For marine biologist and wildlife cameraman Rick Rosenthal, documenting the bluefin has become the ultimate challenge.

Rosenthal’s passion for bluefin was sparked years ago when he was the first to capture an extraordinary underwater spectacle. In the pristine blue waters of the Azores, he witnessed large numbers of dolphins, seabirds and tunas working together in a ferocious three-dimensional attack.  The predators corralled seething shoals of panicked baitfish, compressing them into tighter and tighter formation. Then, in explosive bursts, they rammed through the “bait ball” they had created, greedily engulfing mouthfuls of their prey.

But today the waters of the Azores are quiet. What’s become of the bluefin and their feeding frenzies? To find out, Rosenthal sets out on in pursuit. He ventures across the north Atlantic, up the restless Gulf Stream, and to the depths of the tuna’s sprawling range. He is joined by fishermen, biologists, tuna trackers and tuna traders.

What begins as a search for the soul of one fish becomes a greater mission, ambitious and transformative. The goal: To find the tuna’s place in the grand scheme of the vast marine ecosystem.

Tune in to SUPERFISH: BLUEFIN TUNA Thursday at 9P et/pt and plumb the secrets of the legendary bluefin tuna, on a quest for the last refuge of a giant among fish.

Check out some clips from the upcoming premiere:



  1. Larry Cooley
    United States
    April 11, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Is it just me, or does it seem that all of your tuna fishermen use profane language that has to be bleeped-out ??

  2. Mark
    April 11, 2012, 7:01 pm

    A Texas Minnow

  3. IMG
    July 25, 2012, 12:37 pm

    If I missed it, how can I download/buy the film?

  4. Walker Rowe
    Santiago, CHILE
    September 22, 2012, 8:57 am

    This is not fishing. First the fishermen are using 130 LB test line which is not IGFA standards and extra heavy leaders. Second game fishing rules say only one person can handle the rod. Third you cannot harpoon a fish and call that fishing.

    These guys are going to catch every fish out of the Atlantic off Massachusetts just like they did the codfish. Nat Geo should not present this program as a sportfishing program. These guys are only interested in the fish for the money. There should be export restrictions in place so that not every fish in the ocean is sold to the Japanese.

  5. josh
    cape cod
    January 7, 2013, 2:13 pm

    WalkerRowe you are ill informed, and rather clueless. 1-bluefin tuna fishing commercially has nothing to do with IGA game fishing. So what? Your point is what?

    2-if only more commericla fisheries used aonly rod and reel, and harpoon, as does the bluefin fishery you are denigrating. Low mortality, low efficiency. Small tuna are released for another day, exactly due to using 130lb class rods and reel you rail against.

    3-the netting, purse seining, and penning of bluefin in the Med along with illegal quota blow-outs in the Med are the source of bluefin destruction. Not the MA tuna or east coast tuna fishery-one of the most highly regulated and least efficient fisheries that uses harpoon and rod and reel.

    Nobody knows the demise of the COd stocks neither science nor fishermen and whether 2012 was a one off or a trend, so do yourself and other s a service and favor and stick to bluefin a highly migratory species as opposed to cod bottom ground stocks

    In short-you are a moron with minimal knowledge. Go follow your IGFA rules and stress out gamefish and pat yourself on the back.