Long term radiation effects, in Tuna?
With many of the long term effects from the Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster still ahead of us, a serious consideration should be made regarding the food chain and the possible radioactive contamination thereof. In this example, let’s look at Tuna fish. Is it safer to buy canned tuna now, before possible contamination into its food chain? Or, won’t it really matter.
People in Japan consume a tremendous amount of seafood. Japan is the worlds largest consumer and importer of fish. Tuna not only is fished and consumed by the Japanese, but tuna is widely consumed around the globe.
Many of us are most familiar with tuna in its canned form. Apart from those that enjoy their tuna sashimi style (raw fresh fish served in thin slices), most people will get their tuna pre-cooked and packaged in a small can.
The question is, will tuna that has swum off the coast of Japan, become contaminated with enough radioactive contamination such that we as humans will be affected negatively?
Lets look at a few facts first, like, which types of tuna will swim off the coast of Japan, and what is it that these tuna fish eat themselves?
Tuna that is caught near Japan
Pacific Bluefin tuna are caught in the seas off Kochi (Shikoku Island), Miyagi, and Hokkaido Prefectures in Japan.
They spawn in the Western Pacific between Okinawa and the Philippines and the Sea of Japan and they migrate over 6,000 nautical miles to the Eastern Pacific, eventually returning back to their birth waters to spawn again.
Southern Bluefin tuna can be caught off the coasts of Shizuoka, Kochi, Kagoshima, and Miyagi Prefectures in Japan.
Albacore tuna is caught off the coasts of Miyagi, Kochi, Mie, and Miyazaki Prefectures in Japan.
Yellowfin tuna is caught off the coasts of Shizuoka, Miyagi, and Kochi Prefectures in Japan.
Big-eyed tuna is caught off the shores of Miyagi, Kagoshima, Kochi, Shizuoka, Kanagawa, and Hokkaido Prefectures in Japan.
What do Tuna eat?
Tuna mostly eat small fish ranging from 1.5 inches up to 6 inches. Tuna will also eat squid, and very occasionally will consume crustaceans.
The small fish that tuna will eat include skipjack herring, flying fish, lancetfish, puffer fish, triggerfish and rabbitfish.
If tuna eat smaller fish like Herring, then what do the Herring eat?
Herring (a.k.a. trash fish) eat mostly plankton, as well as algae and some kelp.
If tuna eat squid, then what do squid eat?
Squids are carnivorous. The smaller species of squid mostly eat shrimp, and other small fish.
How could radiation enter the fish food-chain?
So now that we have an idea of what type of tuna is caught off Japan, and what it is that the tuna eat, lets hypothesize how radioactive particles could be ingested into this food chain.
We know that they have been dumping tremendous amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific ocean. This is the water that they have been spraying onto the reactors, fuel rods, and fuel pools while trying to keep them from entirely melting down. The problem is, there has been partial meltdown and the radiation is traveling with the water runoff, which is currently being dumped into the ocean (some water is being diverted into storage tanks).
Of the types of radiation involved, Iodine-131 is of least concern (in the context of this post subject) because it’s half-life is only 8 days. After 80 days, its affect is considered entirely gone.
Of much higher concern is Cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years (considered gone after 300 years). Of even higher concern is Plutonium-239 which has an unimaginable half-life of 24,000 years (considered gone after 240,000 years).
We know that both of these radioactive substances are present at the Fukushima plant, and have been found in the soil all over the region around Fukushima – in high quantities. We don’t know how much has been flowing into the Pacific ocean – we’ve heard a lot of numbers regarding Iodine-131, but scarcely a mention of Cesium or Plutonium. Perhaps this is because in the same sentence the reports can say, “but Iodine-131 only has a half-life of 8 days”. Most of the Sheeple may forget about the words, Cesium and Plutonium, since the main-stream-media rarely mentions them.
The radiation in the seawater is surely getting diluted, however fish are swimming in the water, and the diluted particles of Cesium and Plutonium will remain somewhere in the oceans for 300 to 240,000 years. Do you know how fish stay alive? They constantly are passing water through their mouths into their gills – never ending. Some of the radiation will ‘stick’ and enter their little fish bodies.
Not only do little fish stay alive this way, but also big fish. So, not only will big fish get their own radiation through water injection through their gills, etc… but the big fish also eat the small fish. Effectively then, they are getting a double-whammy. More radiation.
The big fish are then caught for processing, distribution and consumption by humans. Logical thinking suggests that the closer these fish are caught to Japan, the more likely they will have some amount of contamination.
Where does the ‘canned’ tuna come from?
About 68 percent are caught from the Pacific Ocean, 22 percent from the Indian Ocean, and the remaining 10 percent from the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Regarding the U.S. tuna market,
“Solid White Tuna” as stated on the can is ‘Albacore only’ and is regulated by the FDA.
“Chunk Light Tuna” is mostly from the species, Skipjack, but it can include others such as Bigeye and Yellowfin, in any combination.
When you open a can of tuna, you don’t know where the actual tuna was caught. The canned tuna supply chain surely varies depending on deals made, the companies involved, etc…
Odds are of course, that the tuna in that particular can may not have been caught off the shore of Japan – it could have been caught in any other number of places in the Pacific. Lots of these tuna migrate their way to the west coast U.S., but it takes awhile – years in some cases.
No doubt the food supply chain will be examined further as time goes on, particularly if the situation continues to worsen at the Fukushima nuclear plant (It’s already a level-7, the highest on the nuke disaster scale). True results may not be measured for many years to come while looking back at cancer rates.
No amount of radiation ingestion is ‘OK’ though. A single Cesium-137 particle stuck in your body could start the chain reaction that leads to cancer – it’s all about ‘odds’. Some people get it, and some people don’t.
After all, during the 1950′s they were blowing up atomic bombs in the ocean… We’re still here – except one wonders how many more would still be here…
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