I have embarked upon a mission to catalog all of the fish on exhibit, including common names, scientific names, and Japanese names, along with interesting facts about these fish.
One thing I discovered while consulting "Probably More Than You Want To Know About The Fishes Of The Pacific Coast" by Milton Love (I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the fish of the West coast of the U.S.) is that I have been mixing up the names of 2 similar, but different, fish.
Many people I have talked to have told me that "katsuo" is Japanese for "bonito", but this is wrong. The Pacific Bonito is "hagatsuo" in Japanese, while "katsuo" is actually a Skipjack Tuna, a species that only reaches about 40 inches in length.
Generally, Bonito, or "Boners" as some people like to call them, are not considered a delicious fish, but Love says that if you bleed them right away and keep them moist and cool they are good to eat.
Another interesting thing about Bonito, tuna, and other tuna-like fishes is that if you don’t store them properly, they can develop scromboid poisoning which is caused by bacteria breaking down the flesh and creating histamines. The symptoms include "nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea…" (Love, p.315).
No treatment is listed, but I’m guessing that maybe you should treat this like food poisoning, maybe take an anti-histamine, and if things get bad enough, definitely seek professional help. Better yet, if the tuna smells funky, maybe you shouldn’t eat it. If the can is bulging and releases a rancid gas when you pop the top, it’s best to not eat that stuff. Scromboid, botulism, it doesn’t matter- it’s not worth risking your health!
This is a bit off of the topic, but my friend Matt asked if we have Albacore on exhibit. We do not, and it seems like they are not an easy fish to keep in captivity, so we probably won’t be having any of those any time soon. Nor are there any Blue Sharks in the Outer Bay Exhibit.
Here’s another weird tidbit. The Bluefins and Yellowfins are very, very hard to tell apart on exhibit. In Love’s book, an easy way to tell these tuna apart is to look at the second dorsal fin. The Yellowfin’s pectoral fin reaches the origin of the second dorsal fin, while the Bluefin’s does not. Also, the Yellowfin’s finlets are yellow, just as the name implies.
Yet, on exhibit, these two fish have morphed to such a degree that even the experts can’t easily tell them apart. Whatever the case, the largest fish in this exhibit (estimated weight 600 lbs) are the Bluefin, which can get over 1000 lbs in the Pacific. Those fish are found closer to Japan, which is unfortunate for those of us in the States, and for the tuna. Irony is a b*tch sometimes…