When life gives you lemons...The nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daichi in Japan was a very bad thing any way you look at it, but researchers are trying to make some good come out of it. As we wrote about last year, Pacific bluefin tunas carrying radioactive isotopes identified as coming from Fukushima were caught on the U.S West coast. That in itself was a surprise to scientists, but since then they've kept track and learned some very useful things about the Pacific tuna's migratory habits.
Stanford News writes:
Now, nearly two years after the plant discharged radioactive materials into the ocean, follow-up research led by a biology PhD candidate at Stanford finds that young Pacific bluefin tuna are still arriving in California carrying two of Fukushima's signature radioisotopes, cesium-134 and cesium-137.
The work supports the idea that the Fukushima radioisotopes can be used to reliably determine the previously unknown trans-oceanic movements of juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna. This information could be used to prevent tuna from being overfished. (source)
Pacific bluefin tunas are born in the waters around Japan and surrounding countries, and spend a year in the area before either migrating to the Pacific waters near California or staying in the western Pacific ocean.
Although Pacific bluefin tuna isn't officially considered endangered, its worldwide numbers are down 96% from unfished levels, according to a recent study. At this rate, it can't be too long before it does become officially endangered, and at that point it might be too late to pull off a recovery. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure...