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: