The First Traces Of Japanese Nuclear Radiation Have Been Found In California Tuna


Photo: Flickr/Stewart Butterfield

For the first time, scientists say they have found low levels of radiation in bluefin tuna swimming in California waters, Justin McCurry of The Guardian reports. Small amounts of cesium-137 and cesium-134 detected in 15 bluefin caught by San Diego fisherman last August is believed to be from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which contaminated Japanese waters after a massive earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami.  

The findings were published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

The levels of radiation were 10 times higher than the amount measured in previous tuna catches off the California coast, but still below levels considered unsafe for humans, according to the AP. 

Researchers believe the fish were exposed to radiation from Fukushima off the coast of Japan, where they spawn, about one month before migrating across the Pacific ocean.  

According to the AP:

Bluefin tuna absorbed radioactive cesium from swimming in contaminated waters and feeding on contaminated prey such as krill and squid, the scientists said. As the predators made the journey east, they shed some of the radiation through metabolism and as they grew larger. Even so, they weren’t able to completely flush out all the contamination from their system.

Bluefin is highly-prized in Japan. Earlier this year, a 600-pound Bluefin sold for a record-breaking $736,000 at an auction in Tokyo.  

SEE ALSO: BEFORE AND AFTER: Unreal Pictures From The Japan Tsunami >

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