The Fukushima Daiichi disaster may have taken place over 5,000 miles from the US of A, but the endangered bluefin tuna swimming in our waters have been found with radiation that leaked from that nuclear power plant after it was swamped by the tidal wave in March of 2011. According to Reuters, in a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, in samples taken from 15 bluefin caught off the San Diego coast, caesium-137 and caesium-134 were elevated about three percent when compared to previous samples.
Considering how delicious bluefin usually is (thanks to its extremely high mercury content), these delicious tuna (known locally in Fukushima as “Nuke-una”) should be so tasty, they'll make you glow. Unfortunately for you, me, and other American sushi-lovers, the majority of the bluefin we eat today comes from farmed fish. If you want to ingest some isotopes as you taste your toro, you’ll have to go out and catch one of these fish on your own. And even then, experts say you won’t be in danger. David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University, noted that these elevated radiation levels are still well within the limits set by our government regulators. (Who, as everyone knows, are all-knowing and infallible when it comes to advising the general population).
Perversely, if this news causes fish fanatics to freak out it could actually be the best thing that ever happened to the species. Bluefin tunas are under immense pressure these days, and some debate whether or not they should even be harvested at this point. In fact, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas believes that the eastern Atlantic stocks of bluefin have declined by about 80 percent in the past few decades, and the western Atlantic stock has declined by about 70 percent. In light of these facts, if the radiation-tainted tunas scared off consumers, the resulting decrease in pressure on this majestic species could be seen in a positive light—even as the fish begin to emit a luminescence of their own.