Rare find

Huge dead bluefin tuna washes ashore in Red Bay

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - FRONT PAGE -

The De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans (DFO) is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the sur­prise ap­pear­ance of a large tuna on the shores of Red Bay.

A dead 738-pound At­lantic bluefin tuna was re­ported washed ashore in Red Bay Sept. 12. An ini­tial re­port er­ro­neously in­di­cated the fish was a whale, mis­led by the size of the tuna rarely seen on the south­ern Labrador shores.

Carl Bradley, DFO field su­per­vi­sor, sent some of his crew to sam­ple the otolith and tis­sue from the tuna to gauge its age and its stock ori­gin.

DFO then had the fish car­ried out into the ocean and sunk so it wouldn’t at­tract preda­tors.

Alex Hanke, DFO re­search sci­en­tist, ex­plains there are east­ern and western At­lantic stocks of bluefin tuna. In re­cent years, since about 2010, east­ern stocks are be­ing spot­ted more mov­ing into Cana­dian wa­ters.

“There are re­ports of tuna all around New­found­land,” he said. “We had a col­league from Europe tag fish in Por­tu­gal and it crossed over to this side. It’s tag popped off around Stephenville.

“We have plenty of ev­i­dence that east­ern fish are mov­ing this way.”

Hanke be­lieves they may be at­tracted to the large feed­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties on Cana­dian grounds.

How­ever, this tuna is one of the big­gest DFO has seen as they’ve been smaller than aver­age in re­cent years.

Hanke sug­gests the smaller sizes are due to chang­ing ocean con­di­tions, or be­cause of east­ern stock mix­ing with western and com­pet­ing in the same ecosys­tem.

Sci­en­tists aren’t sure of the iden­tity of this par­tic­u­lar At­lantic bluefin tuna but will know once they run sam­ples of the ex­tracted otolith and tis­sue.

Along with numer­ous bluefin tuna sight­ings, there have been mul­ti­ple re­cent re­ports of striped bass along south­ern Labrador.

“So there’s a lot of un­usual things hap­pen­ing,” Hanke said.

A rare sight­ing in the Labrador Straits, a dead At­lantic Bluefin tuna was found washed ashore in Red Bay last week. DFO PHOTO

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