Tunas (Scombridae) have been assumed to be among the fastest and most efficient swimmers because they elevate the temperature of the slow-twitch, aerobic locomotor muscle above the ambient water temperature (endothermy) and because of their streamlined body shape and use of the thunniform locomotor mode. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that juvenile tunas swim both faster and more efficiently than their ectothermic relatives. The maximum sustainable swimming speed (U(max), the maximum speed attained while using a steady, continuous gait powered by the aerobic myotomal muscle) and the net cost of transport (COT(net)) were compared at 24 degrees C in similar-sized (116–255 mm fork length) juvenile scombrids, an endothermic tuna, the kawakawa (Euthynnus affinis) and the ectothermic chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus). U(max) and COT(net) were measured by forcing individual fish to swim in a temperature-controlled, variable-speed swimming tunnel respirometer. There were no significant interspecific differences in the relationship between U(max) and body mass or fork length or in the relationship between COT(net) and body mass or fork length. Muscle temperatures were elevated by 1.0-2.3 degrees C and 0.1-0.6 degrees C above water temperature in the kawakawa and chub mackerel, respectively. The juvenile kawakawa had significantly higher standard metabolic rates than the chub mackerel, because the total rate of oxygen consumption at a given swimming speed was higher in the kawakawa when the effects of fish size were accounted for. Thus, juvenile kawakawa are not capable of higher sustainable swimming speeds and are not more efficient swimmers than juvenile chub mackerel.

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