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Zoology: Boomerang bluefins

Science doi:10.1126/science.1161473 (2008)

Isotopic analysis of the ear bones of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) has shown, for the first time, that an ocean-roaming fish returns to where it was born before spawning.

Jay Rooker of Texas A&M University in Galveston and his colleagues studied the ratio of oxygen-16 to oxygen-18 in the otoliths of these fish. Their findings indicate that 99.3% of the bluefin tuna spawning in the Gulf of Mexico and 95.8% of those spawning in the Mediterranean had swum back to their natal waters.

Populations of the fish have seen a precipitous decline from overfishing; the authors hope that their results will contribute to the species' future management.

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Zoology: Boomerang bluefins. Nature 455, 710 (2008).

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