Radiation Found in Bluefin Tuna Caught Off Coast of California

Low levels of radiation, thought to have come from Japan's tsunami damaged nuclear plant, have turned up in Bluefin Tuna off the Southern California coast.

By Beverly White and Julie Brayton
|  Tuesday, May 29, 2012  |  Updated 6:56 AM PDT
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When the devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered a meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, seafood lovers worried about the possible impact on marine life.

Now Pacific bluefin tuna has been found to carry slight traces of radioactivity.

Scientists announced on Monday that they found levels of Cesium 134 and Cesium 137 10 times higher than in fish caught in previous years. The radiation turned up in samples of tuna captured last August off the coast of San Diego.

The cesium in the fish is not thought to be damaging if consumed, according to findings published in "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

"I wouldn't tell anyone what's safe to eat or what's not safe to eat. It's become clear that some people feel that any amount of radioactivity, in their minds, is bad and they'd like to avoid it," according to Daniel Madigan, Stanford University, Hopkins Marine Station.  "But compared to what's out there naturally, and what's established as safety limits, it's not a large amount at all."

Experts also say they're clear about the source. Cesium 134 comes from human activities like nuclear power and weapons, and none was found in the Pacific for years before Fukushima.

Pacific Bluefin Tuna spawn off the coast of Japan swim eastward at breakneck speeds, and weigh more than a thousand pounds.

So, scientists were surprised the huge fish did not metabolize, and shed the radioactivity.

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