When most of us think of tuna, we think of the can. Maybe we remember “Charlie Tuna” from the old commercials. What many people don’t realize is that these amazing animals are at the pinnacle of fish evolution. Tuna are capable of covering vast distances, traversing the entire Pacific Ocean in a matter of days. They are incredible athletes, described as the “Olympians of the sea.” They are sleek, powerful and oftentimes, massive animals. A bluefin tuna can grow up to 1,500 pounds and 15 feet long. And for generations, they were so abundant it was thought that you could never take all the tuna from the sea. Things change. Our insatiable appetite combined with the technical advances that allow us to over-harvest have pushed tuna to the brink. Scientists are now racing to learn more about these incredible animals in the hope of saving them. Learn more at Tag-A-Giant.
Another species that TOPP (Tagging of Pacific Predators) is tracking is the Leatherback Turtle. Reaching 7 feet long and weighing 2000 pounds, leatherbacks have survived in the world’s oceans for 100 million years. Now they may only have decades left. While sea turtles are not being commercially fished, they still face daunting challenges in the open ocean. They are often accidentally caught and drowned in fisherman’s long-lines and nets. And pollution is also taking a nasty toll. In the water, common plastic bags look very similar to the turtles’ favorite food: jellyfish. The problem is, plastic bags aren’t easy to digest. But the biggest problem the turtles face may be on land. Over harvesting of turtle eggs has long been a problem for sea turtles but now the biggest concern is over development of their nesting beaches. Turtles need a sandy beach to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, people also enjoy vacationing in the same type of places. Humans looking for that seaside getaway are quickly gobbling up the sea turtles nesting grounds. Researchers are now working hard to save these vital nesting grounds to make sure the turtles can survive.