The Fish Whisperer

Critically endangered bluefish tuna have been notoriously difficult to raise in captivity, but since they’re so darned expensive, people keep on trying. The hardest part of farming tuna is getting them to breed. The half-ton fish can take 12 years to reach sexual maturity, and once they do, they need some very specific signals to get the mojo flowing.

Mark Powell at Blogfish links to a story about a fishery in Australia that may have found the trick. What gets tuna in the mood? Giant tanks, “many times the size of an Olympic swimming pool,” complete with mood lighting that mimics the journey from the deep sea to shallower breeding grounds. “We get into their minds. We find the Y factor,” says fish whisperer Hagen Stehr. “Knowing is the easy part; saying it out loud is the hard part.” (OK, so that last quote’s a little fishy.)

In lieu of whispering, other scientists propose hormonal treatments, which could stimulate bluefin to reproduce at a younger age. Farmed and drugged tuna? “That’s a really expensive way of not solving a problem—which is the overfishing of bluefin tuna,” says Tom Grasso, of WWF. So not sexy.

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