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Smart tags show unexpected tuna trips

11:44am, August 15, 2001

Bluefin tuna power across the Atlantic much more often than scientists had expected, a find that could make life messy for fishing-rights negotiators.

The greater mobility of bluefins is just one insight to come from a new generation of fish-tagging experiments, explains Barbara A. Block of Stanford University. Scientists used to rely on tags that merely identify the animal. Now, electronic tags can report much about what a fish does between tagging and recapture. In the Aug. 17 Science, Block and her colleagues release results for Atlantic bluefins wearing two new models.

One of 15 species of tuna, these fish can grow into 10-foot-long, 1,500-pound torpedoes selling for up to $45 a pound. By the early 1980s, bluefin numbers had dropped alarmingly. Recovery of the fish popul

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