Bikini Atoll: Swim All You Want, but DON'T Drink the Coconuts
>Nuked coral reef bounces back--
> * 18:30 14 April 2008
> * NewScientist.com news service
> * Catherine Brahic
>What does a coral reef look like 50 years after being nuked? Not so
>bad, it seems. Coconuts growing on Bikini Atoll haven't fared so
>Three islands of Bikini Atoll were vapourised by the Bravo hydrogen
>bomb in 1954, which shook islands 200 kilometres away. Instead of
>finding a bare underwater moonscape, ecologists who have dived it
>have given the 2-kilometre-wide crater a clean bill of health.
>"It was fascinating - I've never seen corals growing like trees
>outside of the Marshall Islands," says Zoe Richards of the ARC
>Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia.
>Richards and colleagues report a thriving ecosystem of 183 species
>of coral, some of which were 8 metres high. They estimate that the
>diversity of species represents about 65% of what was present before
>the atomic tests.
>The ecologists think the nearby Rongelap Atoll is seeding the Bikini
>Atoll, and the lack of human disturbance is helping its recovery.
>Although the ambient radiation is low, people have remained at bay.
>"Apart from occasional forays of illegal shark, tuna and Napoleon
>Wrasse fishing, the reef is almost completely undisturbed to this
>day," says Maria Beger of the University of Queensland in Australia.
>"There are very few local inhabitants and the divers who visit dive
>on shipwrecks, like the USS Saratoga, and not on the reef."
>Beger took a Geiger counter with her on dives and says that the
>background levels were similar to that at any Australian city. The
>same could not be said of coconuts growing on the islands.
>"When I put the Geiger counter near a coconut, which accumulates
>radioactive material from the soil, it went berserk," says Beger.
>Journal reference: Marine Pollution Bulletin (DOI:
>The Nuclear Age - Learn more about all things nuclear in our
>explosive special report.
>Endangered species - Learn more about the conservation battle in our
>comprehensive special report.
> * Bikini islanders sceptical of plans to clean up atoll
> * http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19125583.000
> * 30 June 2006
> * After the blasts
> * http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg15821400.500
> * 27 June 1998
> * Coral reefs are vanishing faster than rainforests
> * http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12441
> * 08 August 2007
> * Bikini Atoll
> * http://www.bikiniatoll.com/
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