A long-term Archival Tagging Project was undertaken in 2001 by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center of the National Marine Fisheries Service in cooperation with the American Fishermen’s Research Foundation to study the migratory patterns of juvenile (3 to 5 years old) North Pacific albacore (Thunnus alalunga). The project is structured as a five-year program and entails tagging approximately 100 fish in each of the years 2001-2005 for a total of 500 tags deployed by the end of 2005.
The archival tags are sophisticated, small electronic data-logging devices that record depth, water temperature, internal temperature of the fish, and ambient light levels for a period up to four years. The tags are cylindrical and are roughly 3 inches long and 1 inch in diameter with an 8-inch stalk connected at one end. The tags are surgically implanted in the abdominal cavity of the fish with the stalk protruding outside. (Watch this wmv video of surgical installation of a tag.)
To date over 24,000 albacore have been tagged with conventional dart tags and 1,245 of these have been recovered.
The American Fishermen’s Research Foundation has information on the archival tagging program at afrf.org/taggingDuring 2005, two fishing vessels took technicians from the National Marine Fisheries Service on trips off the Oregon coast to tag about 150 albacore tuna. The WFOA encourages people to be on the lookout for tags on fish caught in any region of the North Pacific.
There is a $500 reward for fish recovered with archival tags — details are available through the Southwest Fisheries Science Center.