The price of bluefin tuna

I saw this article about Bluefin Tuna fishing (and how we’re destroying this magnificent species) and had to read it because I’ve been fascinated by the Bluefin ever since I read Carl Safina’s Song for the Blue Ocean.  

Every year, on the first Saturday in January, Japan makes a grand statement to the global fishing community by putting an exorbitant price on the head of a single bluefin tuna. At the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, the first bluefin auction of the year represents many things: growing consumer demand forbluefin sashimi, the exploitation of natural resources, the collapse of a species,shortsightedness in the face of impending doom to the entire ocean, a depravedpublicity stunt.

The article goes on to explain how this fish rose from humble cat food to greatly desired sushi.  But what I most loved, was that the author had come to the Bluefin in the same way as me:

There are a lot of numbers in this story, but when I think of bluefin tuna, I don’t see percentages or dollar signs. The first thing I ever learned about this fish came from reading Carl Safina‘s book Song for the Blue OceanNot 500 words into Chapter One, Safina describes sighting a bluefin in the Atlantic:

What caught my eye was a faint chevron bulging ever so slightly from that molten, glassy sea, fifty yards from where I sat adrift. As I rose to my feet to study it, the chevron grew to a distinct wake. A wake without a boat. The wake ran along the surface for a few seconds, accelerated, and exploded like a revelation.

A giant bluefin tuna, among the largest and most magnificent of animals, hung suspended for a long, riveting moment, emblazoned and backlit like a saber-finned warrior from another world, until its six hundred pounds of muscle crashed into the ocean like a boulder falling from the sky. The jagged tear it left in the sea was marked by an emerald patch of fine bubbles rising slowly to the surface until the spot healed, slowly turned blue again, and became indistinguishable.

… Ashore, the vision of that giant tuna never dissipated.

I’ve never seen a bluefin, but Safina’s description of the fish has burned bright in my mind ever since I read that book.

Me, too.  Shame we’re destroying it so people can have their sushi.

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