Bluefin tuna have been tagged with state-of-the-art acoustic tracking tags for the first time in UK waters.
The 7cm tags, which have been attached to 30 bluefin tuna, send individually coded acoustic messages to listening stations moored on the seabed, allowing the research team to determine how long the fish spend in UK waters each year.
Dr Lucy Hawkes, senior lecturer in ecology at the University of Exeter, who is leading the project, said: “We typically see bluefin tuna in waters around the southwest UK in the summer and autumn months, but do not know if we are seeing the same fish every year, nor the same fish all summer.
“For the first time we will be able to tell, with the acoustic tracking tags sending data for up to five years.”
The team have already heard 81 messages from the tags across five listening stations in the South West, including one fish several times.
This work is part of the FISH INTEL project, funded by the EU’s Interreg France (Channel) England programme, which is establishing a network of acoustic receivers on both sides of the Channel.
The team will continue to collect data from the tagged fish until 2026.
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