As we all know, on April 7, 2011, a 9.0 quake and resulting tsunami demolished a corner of Japan. It caused accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, the worst of which were three large explosions and the leakage of radioactive materials into the water and soil. Two years later startling discoveries were made on the coast of California, where bluefin tuna caught there turned out to have radioactive cesium 10 times the normal level usually measured in these fish. Large, traveling fish like tuna can metabolize and shed radioactive substances, so scientists were very surprised that even after migrating through the entire Pacific ocean, these fish still managed to carry as much radiation as they did.
The bluefin tuna absorbed the radioactive cesium while swimming and feeding in contaminated waters after the Fukushima Power Plant disaster. Now that scientists know that these fish are still contaminated after all this time has passed, they will be looking at other migratory species to see if they have retained radiation as well. But the real test for the bluefin tuna comes this summer when the study will be repeated with this year’s batch of tuna. The tuna that traveled to California last year were estimated to have been exposed to radioactive materials for about a month. These new fish will have been exposed for a longer amount of time. It will be interesting to see that these studies find.
Even though the tuna caught off the coast of California had radiation 10 times the normal amount, it is still well below regulations that the U.S and Japan have set for consumption. Many Japanese were wary of tap water or other foods after the accident, and while any foods distributed within a 50-mile radius of the plant were deemed unfit for human consumption, there were reports of radioactive beef being sold at a market and radioactive milk and spinach being found as well.