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Scientists Find new migratory patterns for Mediterranean and Western Atlantic bluefin tuna
Date:10/3/2008

use a novel approach to investigate migratory behaviors. "We examined the chemical composition of the fish's ear stonethe otolithto identify individuals from different nurseries," said Rooker. "Chemical signatures in the form of stable carbon and oxygen isotope ratios served as a 'birth certificate' and we used these natural tags to determine the origin of adolescent and adult bluefin tuna from several spawning and foraging areas." The international study relied upon bluefin tuna collections made throughout the Mediterranean, Gulf of Mexico, and U.S. and Canadian Atlantic waters.

It is well known that breeders often return to their place of origin but this study is the first to document natal homing for a large, highly migratory fish. "Our study clearly shows that bluefin tuna possess remarkable natal homing abilities that rival those of Pacific salmon and migratory birds. Nearly all of the adults from both the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Sea returned to their place of origin to spawn," noted Rooker.

This new information comes at a time when most bluefin tuna fisheries are in steep decline and global fishery managers are preparing for the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) November 17 in Morocco. A significant portion of the meeting will address diminishing stocks and ways to better manage the economically vital species. In a recent independent review by international experts, ICCAT received strong criticism for past mismanagement of bluefin tuna fisheries, specifically those in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean.


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Contact: Christopher Conner
cconner@umces.edu
443-496-0095
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Source:Eurekalert

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