Dietribes: Buena For Tuna

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• The word "tuna" has not been around particularly long. It came into American lexicon from the Spanish-American derivation of the English "tunny," itself derived from the Latin "Thunnus."

• Atlantic bluefins, an endangered species of tuna (almost all members of the family Scombridae are referred to as "tuna" even though there are over 50 species) are warm-blooded, a rare trait among fish.

• The large, warm-blooded species are comfortable in the frigid waters of Newfoundland and Iceland as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, where they go to spawn.

• Want to follow the travels of 4 Mediterranean bluefin tuna? There's a great map from 2008 that shows the routes taken by bluefin tunas named Shalim, Yarikh, Yamm, and Kotha. Pretty amazing!

• The Bluefin species are streamlined for speed and endurance (and have even inspired airplane design). Tunas of this ilk can swim up to 43 mph (Bluefins can retract their dorsal and pectoral fins into slots to reduce drag), and some can live to be 20 years old or more.

• Unfortunately, overfishing has caused some of the more popular species of tuna to become endangered. Tuna population has declined by an average of 60% since 1954.

• As of 2001, for the first time in history Americans began eating more shrimp than canned tuna. In general though, it seems people tend to eat more tuna in the summertime.

• Apparently Christopher Walken is a big fan of tuna … most especially if hand-made by Regis Philbin.

• Tuna fishing has always had its history tied closely with dolphins and dolphin safety. I personally remember doing a project in school about Dolphin-safe tuna, a label we take for granted now, even though its meaning may not be so clear.

• According to Consumer Reports, "Canned tuna, Americans’ favorite fish, is the most common source of mercury in our diet. New tests of 42 samples from cans and pouches of tuna bought primarily in the New York metropolitan area and online confirm that white (albacore) tuna usually contains far more mercury than light tuna. The heavy metal accumulates in tuna and other fish in an especially toxic form, methyl mercury, which comes from mercury released by coal-fired power plants and other industrial or natural sources, such as volcanoes."

• Here is also a helpful general guide regarding weekly consumption.

• I love love love tuna! What about you, Flossers? What's your favorite way to eat it?

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

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April 4, 2012 - 8:22am
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