Monday, 10 October 2011
Tuna washes ashore on Mull - Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust
Atlantic bluefin tuna spawn in the Mediterranean Sea, however they are highly migratory and tagged individuals have been tracked swimming from North American to European waters several times a year.
Although not many consider the waters off the west coast of Scotland to play host to such a fish, historically tuna did frequent these waters. Dr. Clive Fox, from the Scottish Association of Marine Science in Oban, explains, “Bluefin tuna are rare in our waters but not unprecedented, indeed there used to be a commercial and sport fishery for them before the war.” In fact, evidence of bluefin tuna making an annual migration to UK waters goes back a few hundred years. Brain Swinbanks, Chairman of the Tobermory Harbour Association, added, “ The British rod and line record for Blue Fin Tuna is 851lbs caught in the North Sea in 1933 by Mr Mitchell-Henry fishing from a ship’s rowing boat 50 miles off shore and alongside the Herring Fleet. A decline in the stocks of herring resulted in a decline in migratory Tuna which originally came from the Mediterranean migrating all round the west coast of Scotland.” In September 1989, a 400lbs tuna was reported caught close to the Isle of Lewis.
Unfortunately the tuna carcass was too decomposed for full analysis, however the fish’s otoliths (ear bones) will be recovered and from these the age of the fish can be determined. If you find a stranded animal, HWDT would be very interested to learn about it. If researchers reach the carcass in good time then we can learn many things about the animal and why it may have perished. Please contact HWDT on 01688 302620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you find anything on the shore.