Bluefin Tuna Spawning Mid-Spill Right Now

This shows the track (yellow line) and daily positions (dots) of a giant bluefin tuna electronically tagged off Canada on October 25, 2008—which spent the period from March 23-May 24, 2009, in the Gulf of Mexico. The track is overlaid on the area of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as of May 24, 2010 (black). Peak spawning of bluefin tuna occurs in this area during April and May. Image courtesy Tag-A-Giant Foundation and Stanford University.


A new model reveals two major hotspots within the Gulf of Mexico where bluefin tuna prefer to spawn in circular swirling water masses known as cyclonic eddies.

Sadly, the model also indicates the tuna are spawning there right now—and that the hotspots lie in waters befouled by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Gulf of Mexico bluefins have suffered a huge population decline since 1950. A 20-year plan to rebuild the stock has failed utterly. That failure led the United Nations to consider listing the species as endangered last March—a decision they cowardly backed out of. The senior author of the paper in PLoS ONE, Barbara Block, tells Stanford University:

“Both catch data and electronic tags indicate the Gulf of Mexico along the continental shelf is the preferred habitat of this majestic fish. I think it is amazing how precisely we can predict where the bluefin are. Unfortunately their spawning habitat overlaps the Deepwater Horizon oil accident site, and the timing of the spill coincides with the time when we expect them to be there spawning.”

(If you appreciate our BP coverage, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.)
 

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.