Bluefin tuna carry radioactive compounds across Pacific Ocean
A recent study shows that infected bluefin tuna have carried nuclear radiation across the Pacific, from the coast of eastern Japan all the way to the coast of California.
The fish were first suspected to be tainted after small traces of radioactive isotopes were discovered in 15 tuna caught in San Diego in August 2011. It is believed that these large fish were first contaminated when the Fukushima Power Plant in Japan was wrecked by an earthquake-induced tsunami earlier in the spring, which led to the leakage of radioactive substances into the surrounding water.
Bluefin tuna, which are considered speedy, were able to carry the radioactive substances across the 13,000 kilometer span between Japan and the United States faster than the water or wind could carry the isotopes. Debris from the plant reached Alaska and other areas of the northwestern United States via water and wind currents several months after the contaminated fish began popping up along California’s coast.
It is noted that the level of radioactivity found in the fish is not life-threatening. According to study author Daniel Madigan of Standford University’s Hopkins Marine School, ingesting the contaminated fish should not pose great danger to an individual’s well being.
“I wouldn’t tell anyone what’s safe to eat or what’s not safe to eat,” Madigan said in a telephone interview. “It’s become clear that some people feel that any amount of radioactivity, in their minds, is bad and they’d like to avoid it. But compared to what’s there naturally…and what’s established as safety limits, it’s not a large amount at all.”
The two isotopes found in the fish are identified as cesium 137 and cesium 134. These isotopes find their way into the fish through the ingestion of other contaminated sea creatures or the transference of water through gills.