Thanks to Tom Horton as my other half, I was one of a handful of people invited to be the audience of a live dissection of a bluefin tuna. This was a rare and unique opportunity, albeit a very smelly one!
The dissection was lead by Dr Mathew Witt and Dr Lucy Hawkes and expertly executed by James Barnett who learnt how to conduct the dissection through YouTube videos as this wasn't something he had ever encountered before!
The 140kg tuna made headlines in the media over the summer, being brought ashore at Kingsands by a group of kayakers who found the tuna, already dead.
It raised political debates over fishing laws and quotas and environmental debates over it's presence in Cornish waters; how it came to be here, how it died and whether bluefin in our waters are a consequence of climate change. Though none of these debates can be concluded over night, I learnt a huge amount about the biology of bluefin. How they are a SUPERHERO fish, how they need to be further protected and how scientific research on their presence in our UK waters needs to be supported.
Through analaysis of the tuna's tissues (via stable isotopes) scientists are hoping to ascertain where this tuna spent it's time and what it fed on to create a bigger picture of the life history of this tuna, in turn providing important scientific data to aid in the better protection and conservation of these over-exploited fish.
Bryony Stokes, a conservation filmmaker, was there to document the entire proceedings so watch this space for her film . . . www.bryonystokes.com
A huge thanks to the guys at the Environment and Sustainability Institute at Exeter University's, Penryn Campus www.exeter.ac.uk/esi/news/title_424657_en.html