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article imageUS Bluefin tuna record Fukushima radiation

By Anne Sewell     May 29, 2012 in Environment
Apparently Pacific Bluefin tuna in the U.S. is showing radioactive signals from Fukushima, but officials say it is "safe to eat."
The BBC is reporting on a scientific study made on Bluefin tuna. It turns out that these fish travel huge distances (around 6,000kms) and end up off the coast of the U.S.A.
This is apparently the first time that a migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity over such a vast distance.
One of the researchers reporting the findings on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is Nicholas Fisher. When asked if he was surprised at the findings, he said, "We were frankly kind of startled."
Apparently the levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than those measured in tuna off the coast of California in previous years. All the tuna tested in the study showed elevated levels of radioactive cesium - the isotopes 134 and 137. Apparently cesium-137 is already present in seawater due to fallout from atomic weapons testing. However, cesium-134 has a short, 2-year half-life, meaning that the contamination can be linked directly to the disaster at Fukushima.
The team used 15 Bluefin tuna caught off the coast of San Diego and as a control, the team had also examined Yellowfin tuna, which are largely residential in the eastern Pacific. The Yellowfin tuna showed no difference in their pre- or post-Fukushima concentrations.
According to Tagging of Pacific Predators, Bluefin tuna can grow as long as 3 meters (9.8 feet). They have been proven to travel as far as 45,000 miles in just 16 months. The research program is co-manged by Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station.
Fisher says that the group plans to conduct another Bluefin tuna study later this year in order to determine whether cesium concentrations have changed.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Osamu Fujimura told reporters in Tokyo, “This probably shows the need for international monitoring of marine life. We are studying the best way to collect information on the issue.”
The scientists say that the levels of radiation are still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japan. Fisher states that he might be wary of eating fish directly off Japan's coast, but says "it probably is still safe to eat".
Smaller fish and plankton have been found previously with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters. However, scientists did not expect the nuclear fallout to linger in larger fish that travel the world. They state such fish can metabolise and shed radioactive substances.
Do you think this tuna is safe for human consumption? Please comment below.
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