Tuna Kills Hundreds of Anchovies in Aquarium


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Posted by Dave Bischof on March 10, 2005 at 21:59:48:

In Reply to: Shark Kills Two Others in Aquarium posted by on March 10, 2005 at 09:12:52:

A yellofin tuna of the species tunas horribilus that has been held in captivity in California far longer than any other member of its species has as of now attacked and killed over a hundred smaller tankmates, i.e., anchovies, heightening critics' calls for the animal's release.

One of the anchovies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium died Feb. 23 after an attack by the tuna. The anchovy died Tuesday from injuries received in an attack a day earlier, then next came the third anchovy, then the fourth, then the fith, then.....well, you get the picture. "This yellowfin tuna is a serial killer!" said Randy Kochevar, a marine biologist at the aquarium.

The year-old tuna has been at the aquarium for nearly six months; no other tuna has stayed alive for more than 16 days in captivity. The tuna came to the aquarium Sept. 15 after a legally blind solo halibut fisherman accidentally lassoed its tail off the Orange County coast and couldn't figure out how the halibut got two eyes equilaterally instead of the more common assymetrical placement.

Aquarium officials believe the 60-pound, 3-foot-5-inch tuna attacked the smaller, slower anchovies, sardines, mackerel and squid only as a reflex when it bumped the other animals not in a predatory rage.

The animal hasn't attacked anything else in the tank, including a variety of anglefish, California barracuda, black sea turtles, scalloped hammerhead sharks nor the female great white shark. 486.5 other anchovies have been removed from the tuna's tank for their own protection, Kochevar said.

Even so, some naturalists say tunas can't adjust to aquarium life, especially when the anchovies are extra fat and sassy. It's like a 16 year old girl exposing her breasts to a hormone crazed pimply faced 18 year old guy, they go bersek.

"They really have huge travel migration routes, both breasts migrating south and tuna. This type of tuna typically travels 50 miles in a day,'' said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Tuna Research Foundation in Santa Cruz.

Van Sommeran said the million-gallon tank where the tuna lives "is really just a bucket. ... His nose is raw from repeated contact with the barrier walls.

"This animal is injured and becoming agitated,'' he said.

Kochevar countered that the animal is under constant medical supervision and is healthy, and eventually will be released.

He said the aquarium has had 700,000 visitors come see the shark display, and researchers are gathering data on its biology and behavior they say will help in conservation efforts for sharks in the wild, hopefully before this one dies.

"We are doing something here that nobody else has done. ... And we have found that the very best way to inspire people and educate people, just right before we nail em for 20 bucks a pop, is to put them face-to-face with the real thing, right before we kill it in the name of saving it'' Kochevar said.

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