Dolphin safe tuna… A dolphin is worth how many fish?

Written by: Captain Skellett // September 30th, 2010 // Unethics

Flickr Image by david.nikonvscanon

In the immortal words of Marge “I brought you a tuna sandwich. They say it’s brain food. I guess because there’s so much dolphin in it, and you know how smart they are.” Dolphin safe tuna is for some of us environmental types a no-brainer like eating free range eggs.

I was one such person, until I read this post last year.

The ecological disaster that is dolphin safe tuna by Southern Fried Science is one of my top five ever blog posts (the top prize going to the Nacho Average Cheesecake by the sadly ended Chem Blog. Read it read it read it!)

For those of us too lazy to click through, I’ll summarize the dolphin safe tuna post. Consider this cliffnotes. Hells, I’m just that kinda pirate.

To fish for tuna, ships like to locate a big school of ’em so they can nab them all at once. Finding a school of tuna is tricky.

The non-dolphin safe method is to follow some dolphins, because dolphins have their fins on the pulse and know the happy-haps of where the tuna are at. Dolphins are easy to follow because they come up to the surface for air. The downside is that the dolphins are accidentally caught with the tuna (bycatch), Southern Fried Science estimates it as 500,000 a year.

The dolphin safe method does it differently. Instead, an object is floated on the ocean. For some weird reason, floating objects attract sea life, including big ol’ schools of tuna. So you just scoop up the tuna when it comes in. Of course, this leads to bycatch of its own, including all the other sea life that came to investigate the mysterious floating object. There’s more bycatch through this method, but less of it is dolphins.

When you compare the bycatch of the dolphin safe method and the non-dolphin safe method you come up with the following.

1 dolphin saved through dolphin safe fishing costs 382 mahi-mahi, 188 wahoo, 82 yellowtail and other large fish, 27 sharks, and almost 1,200 small fish.

Food for thought. Read the original post here.

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google


2 Responses to “Dolphin safe tuna… A dolphin is worth how many fish?”

  1. […] obvious way forward for to help reduce palm oil destruction. We’d previously had the popular dolphin safe tuna campaign. So it seemed like it would be easy for an organisation like Greenpeace (see their orangutan Kit […]

  2. riki ricardo says:

    hooray! hooray for dolphins.

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