Roses are red, tuna are bluefin

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Valentine’s Day. Two words that most people either love or loathe. Of course everyone’s heard it before, but let’s summarize why the lovey-dovey camp likes February 14th: it’s special; it’s romantic; I have the best boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife in the world; I get flowers/ chocolates/ jewelry/ amazing sex/ dinner out; I like to show my significant other that I care. And for the haters it goes something like this: it’s stupid, you shouldn’t need an excuse to show affection; it’s so materialistic/ overly commercial; it’s a chick holiday; I’m single.

While all of the above are generalizations, they’re also all fairly accurate. Case and point: I saw derivatives of at least 75% of them on facebook this morning. (Clearly, no further proof required.) But anyway, I can relate to both sides, although I tend to have the mindset that no, you don’t need one day a year to celebrate being a couple. But there’s also no need to go out of your way to be grouchy either. No one is forcing you to be romantic and if you feel obligated to do something nice for your partner, then hopefully you realize you’ve got some bigger relationship issues to deal with. And (believe it or not), you can have great sex the other 364 days of the year too. In fact, I really hope you do. I also hope you are spontaneous, and go on dates on Mondays, and cook nice dinners together mid-week, and surprise each other, and, most importantly – appreciate – each other, more often than not. And, personally, while I actually do think unconditional love is the most wonderful thing in the world (100% serious), I’m also have a tendency to lean toward the unpredictable side of life. Thus, I’ve come to realize that anticipating a day full of romance is not only counterintuitive, but also super boring.

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But that’s that and if you like V-Day then eat your cinnamon-encrusted heart out and smell those roses for all they’re worth! (Which today, incidentally, is about five times what they were a week ago.) And now for something that is actually interesting, I’m going to talk about the current love of my life: tuna. And not just any tuna, bluefin tuna.

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If I believed in perfection (which, luckily, I don’t), I’d say that this fish is physiologically perfect. What a bluefin can do within the constraints of seawater is absolutely marvellous. Even Sir David agrees. And, not only are they one of the fastest fish in the ocean, but they are also endurance athletes; travelling thousands of kilometres across ocean basins every year. And, for everyone who didn’t click on the subtle, hidden (clearly too well hidden) link in About, I’ll resort to being obnoxious and making it a bit more obvious this time…

WATCH THIS VIDEO NOW! 

(And, yes, all 75,000 of its views on YouTube were by me.)

Hopefully now we’re all on the same page. But for those who are still aren’t quite convinced, consider this:

  • Weighing an average of 250-350 kg and capable of reaching up to 4.5 m in length, these fish are no minnows. The largest bluefin ever caught was a whopping 680 kg. (For comparison, that’s over 100 kg heavier than Secretariat.)
  • Along with the other true tunas and some shark species, the bluefin is one of only a handful of fish that can actually raise its internal body temperature above that of the surrounding water. This allows them to accelerate and swim very fast – upward of 70 km/h – and live in water that would otherwise be too cold for such a large, active fish (e.g., the North Atlantic Ocean).
  • Each year, bluefins partake in some of the longest migrations on Earth. These fish travel over 7,500 km across the open ocean, from breeding to feeding grounds and back. And they take only about three months to do it.
  • Bluefin tuna are obligate ram ventilators. This means that in order to obtain enough oxygen from the water, they must remain in constant forward motion, with their mouths open. If they stop swimming, they’ll die.

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OK, so clearly I put these animals on a bit of a pedestal. But I’m not the only one. Unfortunately, the majority of their other admirers also put them on rice. And proceed to eat them with chopsticks. And this is causing a very high global demand and subsequently, some pretty substantial overfishing (remember that little post on sustainability a week or so ago?). Populations of two of the three bluefin subspecies have been so heavily depleted within the last thirty years that they currently meet the IUCN’s criteria for Endangered status. Yet thousands of tonnes are still being caught, sold, and served globally every year.

But because it deserves a good chunk of time and thought, I’ll go into that doom and gloom in my next tuna post. I just wanted to hopefully spark a bit of interest such that, until then, you’ll be compelled to scour the internet, bookstores, library microfiche archives, Mesopotamian stone tablets…, in search of any tuna-related information. Alright, maybe not. But you can’t blame a girl for trying… Seriously though, if you are remotely interested in learning more about tuna or sushi (or both), I’d recommend clicking on the bluefin picture at the top of this post, or picking up a copy of Tuna: A Love Story (also morbidly titled Tuna: Love, Death, and Mercury) by Richard Ellis, or The Sushi Economy by Sasha Issenberg. Both of these books are well researched, non-fiction, and written with the general public in mind.

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