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International science team tracks ocean predators around the globe

Following giant tunas as they move across the ocean has always been a challenge. A decade ago, the thought of tagging and tracking more than 1,000 bluefin tunas was only a dream. Now it's been done, and an even more ambitious goal of following thousands of open-ocean predators, representing two dozen marine species, across the North Pacific has been initiated.

Stanford University scientist Barbara Block will discuss the current understanding of oceanic animal migrations in a lecture titled "Hot Tuna: Electronic Tracking of Giant Bluefin Across the Open Sea," during a symposium on new approaches to marine conservation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle on Feb. 13.

As the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor of Marine Sciences at Stanford and director of the Tuna Research and Conservation Center (TRCC), a collaboration between the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Stanford, Block has pioneered the use of electronic tags to study the behavior of large migratory fishes, including tunas, sharks and billfishes. She and her team of doctoral students, postdoctoral associates and aquarium personnel have tagged highly migratory fishes throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. For the past decade, her work has focused on the North Atlantic to document the migrations of bluefin tunas from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States across the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

This work has helped determine that Atlantic and Pacific bluefin tuna undertake extensive migrations, crossing back and forth across entire ocean basins. These findings are critical in helping to craft international management schemes for tuna fisheries. Giant bluefins are the most valuable fish in the ocean, worth tens of thousands of dollars each in places like the Tokyo fish market, where they are sliced into the highest quality sashimi. Increasing pressure on the natural resource has led to controversy on how to a
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
831-915-0088
Stanford University
13-Feb-2004


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