Radiation And Wildlife: The Impact On Animals

While many animals have been affected by the disaster in Japan, the impact of the radiation appears to be less harmful than we might have expected. Read on to discover how the marine and wildlife have been and may continue to be affected by the radiation leaks. — Global Animal

UPDATE:  Marine Life At Higher Risk From Radiation In Japan Than Expected

Samantha Ellis, Global Animal

Laysan Albatross Rescued and Returned to Eastern Island Photo Credit: Pete Leary/USFWS

With contaminated water flowing from the nuclear reactor plants in Japan back into the ocean, many people are wondering what effect the radiation will have on marine life. Fortunately the impact should be minimal. The Pacific ocean is so large that the radioactivity leaking into the water will be diluted to levels far too low for it to be toxic to aquatic animals.

Also, according to “Radioactive isotopes are most dangerous when animals’ bodies absorb them, thinking they’re something else. For instance, cesium-137 mimics potassium and is absorbed by muscles, while strontium-90 mimics calcium and is taken up by bones. Since ocean water is full of potassium and calcium in the form of salts, this lowers the chance of an animal’s body taking up radioactive particles by mistake.” essentially, even if the radiation levels do rise in the ocean, the marine life will be unharmed.

While the full effects of the radiation pollution on wildlife are difficult to predict, looking back at similar events in Chernobyl and Bikini Atoll we find that the outlook for wildlife is not as grim as we might expect, according to information gathered by  Examining the effects on animals near Chernobyl and Bikini Atoll animals can suffer short term harm from the radiation, but will, in the long term, recover.

The greatest harm to the wildlife appears to be from the tsunami itself, rather than the radiation resulting from that event. It is estimated that tens of thousands of coastal birds were killed when the wave hit. The endangered Midway Atoll albatross population was severely affected by the tsunami, but will survive as a species.  The impact on other endangered species, such as the monk seal, is unknown at this time; however scientist M. Sanjayan of the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia believes that most of the large mammals were able to ride the waves with few injuries.

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5 Responses to Radiation And Wildlife: The Impact On Animals

  1. Jill M Storm Meilahn August 20, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    I want to know then why are people finding deformed fish, even fish that are four times there size now then before? Why the mammals in some cases are beaching themselves when they hadn't done it before Japan got hit? Why they are finding deformed fish with raiser sharp teeth in waters they don't usually see them in? Oh and why Japan decided to wait more then a year before they decided to clean up the area if it's not so bad and why now they say it's imperative that they clean it as fast as possible now?

  2. Jindalpankaj2 September 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    i want to do reserch on the significant benefits of nuclear radiations to the aquatic life so that this reserch may help to the nuclear power plant industry to establish there plants in costel area without any objections of the people and fisherely industries.Can u please help me or guide me

  3. Ritvec June 17, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    bah bah bah…..ur para sucks and so does this scientist

  4. Double Glazing June 15, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Sad to hear the situation because of what happen to Japan.But still I hope that It will not get affect larger responsibilities so that we can still have and save the wildlife creatures.

  5. Gas thermocouples May 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

     Chemical reaction and other types can affect wild life and turn their into death. We need also to consider not only us but also the living creatures around us.