Since 2015, the Sea of Change Foundation has supported threatened species conservation projects around the world. In 2020, with the TAG (Tag A Giant) team, the foundation expanded that support to include satellite tagging and tracking of Atlantic bluefin tuna. The Foundation funded three pop-up, satellite archival tags. These technologically advanced devices – using the same microchips and communications technologies found in cell phones – record the fishes’ movements across vast distances.
In December 2020, despite pandemic-caused logistical challenges and bad weather, five fish were tagged, three with satellite tages off the coast of Morehead, North Carolina. The average size of the tagged bluefin tunas was 250 pounds with a 70-inch fork length, making these fish approximately 7 to 9 years old and likely reproductively mature. Before each tagged fish was safely released, DNA fin clips and small tissue samples were taken so that individual genetics and sex markers can later be correlated with their recorded movements. Today, the tags are actively recording valuable data and will continue until they “pop-up” to the ocean surface and upload their data to the nearest satellite for retrieval by the TAG team of scientists to review and analyze.
Why is this important? Eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna are categorized as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Western Atlantic tuna are listed as Critically Endangered. Since 1970, the eastern bluefin population declined by 50% while the western Atlantic bluefin’s spawning biomass suffered a 90% reduction over the same time period. These declines dramatically impact both commercial and recreational fisheries. The data collected from tagged bluefin provides vital information about their population structure, migrations, and spawning sites and times all of which are vital for improving protections and sustainable management of the two stocks.
“At the Sea of Change Foundation, we support cutting-edge science as a powerful tool for effective conservation, and the work of the Tag-A-Giant team is an example of excellent science in action. We’re excited to see the tracks from our three tagged tunas and will share those on our social media, so stay tuned” said Samantha Whitcraft, Executive Director of the Foundation. Importantly, “through the Foundation, 100% of donations go directly to support such research projects that help ensure future generations will also experience the natural world and its wonders, like the magnificent bluefin tuna,” concluded Wayne Brown, CEO of Aggressor Adventures® and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation.
About the Sea of Change Foundation: The Foundation funds and initiates conservation and research that directly impact the natural world we all love to enjoy and explore. Our mission is to create positive change. You can learn, here.
About Tag A Giant (TAG): Tag-A-Giant Fund is committed to reversing the decline of northern bluefin tuna populations with the scientific research necessary to develop innovative and effective policy and conservation initiatives. We engage scientists, policymakers, fishermen and citizens to chart the course toward rebuilding and maintaining sustainable populations of northern bluefin tuna in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Our vision is an abundant future for bluefin tuna and the fisheries that depend upon them — a guaranteed role for bluefin as a top predator in ocean ecosystems. Learn more about their research, here.