Fukushima radiation reveals bluefin tuna secrets

Last May, scientists reported that 15 Pacific bluefin tuna caught in California in the months after the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011 contained trace amounts of radiation. It was the first evidence of migrating animals transporting radioactive materials across the ocean, and the researchers suggested it could provide a means for tracking the fish’s annual migrations.

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.

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