The bluefin tuna is one of the most majestic and prized creatures in the sea. Last week, one caught off Japan sold in Tokyo for $396,000, to be used as sushi.
Now the fish is the subject of a scientific fight that shows how hard it will be to gauge the environmental fallout of the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
The U.S. government will wrap up public meetings next week on whether to recommend declaring the Atlantic bluefin an endangered species. If the government declared the fish endangered, it would bar fishermen from targeting the fish in U.S. waters. An environmental group filed the request last year, claiming in part that the western-Atlantic stock of the fish, long believed to spawn only in the Gulf of Mexico, would "be devastated" by last year's spill from a blown-out BP PLC well.
But scientists disagree about what portion of last spring's crop of young tuna, or larvae, were hit by oil. They disagree about whether the Gulf is the only place where the western-Atlantic bluefin spawns. In short, they disagree about virtually every aspect of the spill's effect on the fish. Read More