Fukushima contaminates California tuna

Radioactive bluefin tuna caught off California coast last year

A study of a migratory fish species caught off the California coast has shown radioactive contamination from last year’s Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.

In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists from Stony Brook University in New York examined muscle tissue of 15 bluefin tuna collected near San Diego in August 2011, according to BBC News. All the fish examined had elevated levels of radioactive caesium, namely isotopes 134 and 137. As caesium-137 is already present in seawater from nuclear-weapons testing, the short (two-year) half-life of caesium-134 indicates the contamination of the fish is directly linked to Fukushima.

The study’s authors noted eating California-caught tuna from last year represents no health concern because the level of radioactivity is well within guidelines, but the study does demonstrate how species can carry pollution immense distances. “It’s a lesson to us in how interconnected eco-regions can be, even when they may be separated by thousands of miles,” said study co-author Nicholas Fisher.