Science is working hard on the tuna salad of the future. Most of the vegetables we eat today have been through some cross-breeding and genetic tinkering. But now RocketNews24 reports that researchers may have found a way to breed bluefin tuna babies from mackerel parents.
Goro Yoshizaki, a fish specialist at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, has found a way to inject tuna reproductive cells into baby mackerel. Once the mackerel grow up and fall in love, they make tuna babies, as illustrated in this flowchart.
This inter-species surrogacy might seem a little unnatural, especially since bluefin tuna usually prey on mackerel. But desperate measures are called for since our voracious appetite for sushi has pushed bluefin tuna to the brink of extinction.
The more obvious solution is to farm them, but according to NPR, cultivation is not currently viable. Bluefin are large, migratory animals that require lots of space and food. A tuna eats about 15 pounds of fish for every pound of weight, and a single bluefin can grow up to 1,000 pounds.
Tuna at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Mackerel, on the other hand, take up less space and resources to farm. Plus, they reach sexual maturity within one year, whereas bluefin tuna don’t get to babymaking until they’re five years old. So next time you’re ordering sushi, stick to the non-endangered species like mackerel—or get used to the idea of test tube toro sashimi.