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Bikini Atoll: Swim All You Want, but DON'T Drink the Coconuts

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  • Potter at Island Resources
    ... -- -- 35 Years of Environmental Service to Small Tropical Islands -- Island Resources Foundation Fone 202/265-9712 1718 P St NW, # T-4 fax
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 16, 2008
      >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
      >well, however.
      >
      >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.
      >
      >Atomic idyll
      >
      >"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:
      >10.1016/j.marpolbul.2007.11.018)
      >
      >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.
      >Related Articles
      >
      > * 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
      >
      >Weblinks
      >
      > * Bikini Atoll
      > * http://www.bikiniatoll.com/
      >

      --
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      35 Years of Environmental Service to Small Tropical Islands
      --
      Island Resources Foundation Fone 202/265-9712
      1718 "P" St NW, # T-4 fax 202/232-0748
      Washington, DC 20036 Potter cell: 1-443-454-9044
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