Bluefin Tuna Milestone

Tidings | Oct 20, 2021

Dr. Walt Golet and his Pelagic Fisheries Lab celebrate a significant sampling milestone.

Walt Golet holds the severed head of a bluefin tuna before extracting the inner ear bone for chemical and physical analysis.

As we wrap up another busy field season, we are excited to share an important milestone: Research Scientist Dr. Walt Golet and his Pelagic Fisheries Lab recently surpassed 11,000 bluefin tuna samples collected over the last decade.

Because bluefin tuna travel such long distances, they can be a challenging species to study — creating gaps in our understanding of their life histories. Sample data fills those gaps, helping researchers and decision-makers better understand and manage the species.

To collect the data, Dr. Golet has established a large bluefin sampling network in collaboration with fishermen and dealers stretching from Maine to North Carolina. These collaborators send legally caught tuna heads to Dr. Golet’s lab at GMRI. Lab staff then analyze the tunas’ muscle tissues and otoliths (ear bones) to learn where they came from, where they migrated, how fast they traveled, and how long they lived.

This information is fundamentally linked to the management of the bluefin tuna fishery. The resulting dataset is highly valued by fisheries scientists, including our own Dr. Lisa Kerr, who is using data from Dr. Golet’s lab to conduct a new study that seeks to integrate climate impacts into Atlantic bluefin tuna stock assessments.

It cannot be overstated what an important role this data collection plays in both the national and international management of bluefin tuna. It is an incredible amount of effort to collect these samples collaboratively with participants in the fishery.

Lisa Kerr, Ph.D. Associate Professor, UMaine School of Marine Sciences
This is the staff photo for lisa kerr
Lisa Kerr, Ph.D. Associate Professor, UMaine School of Marine Sciences

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