Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fishing for answers off Fukushima

Date:
October 25, 2012
Source:
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Summary:
Japan's "triple disaster," as it has become known, began on March 11, 2011, and remains unprecedented in its scope and complexity. To understand the lingering effects and potential public health implications of that chain of events, scientists are turning to a diverse and widespread sentinel in the world's ocean: fish.

ÿÿFish monitoring data from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) showed the change in total cesium (137Cs + 134Cs in Bequerels per kilogram) in bottom-dwelling (demersal) fish from the five prefectures in East Japan closest to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant (left plot). It also revealed differences in total cesium for five different fish types (Demersal: cod, conger, flounder, halibut, pollock, rockfish, skate and sole; Epipelagic: saury, sardines, anchovies; Pelagic: amberjack, mackerel, salmon, seabass, tuna; Neuston: Japanese sand lance, ice fish, shirasu; and Freshwater fish: farmed and native) over the same period (right plot).
Credit: Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Japan's "triple disaster," as it has become known, began on March 11, 2011, and remains unprecedented in its scope and complexity. To understand the lingering effects and potential public health implications of that chain of events, scientists are turning to a diverse and widespread sentinel in the world's ocean: fish.

Related Articles


Events on March 11 began with a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the fourth largest ever recorded. The earthquake in turn spawned a massive 40-foot tsunami that inundated the northeast Japanese coast and resulted in an estimated 20,000 missing or dead. Finally, the wave caused catastrophic damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, resulting in the largest accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history, 80 percent of which ended up in the Northwest Pacific Ocean.

In a Perspectives article appearing in October 26, 2012, issue of the journal Science, WHOI marine chemist Ken Buesseler analyzed data made publicly available by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) on radiation levels in fish, shellfish and seaweed collected at ports and inland sites in and around Fukushima Prefecture. The picture he draws from the nearly 9,000 samples describes the complex interplay between radionuclides released from Fukushima and the marine environment.

In it, Buesseler shows that the vast majority of fish caught off the northeast coast of Japan remain below limits for seafood consumption, even though the Japanese government tightened those limits in April 2012. Nevertheless, he also finds that the most highly contaminated fish continue to be caught off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, as could be expected, and that demersal, or bottom-dwelling fish, consistently show the highest level of contamination by a radioactive isotope of cesium from the damaged nuclear power plant. He also points out that levels of contamination in almost all classifications of fish are not declining, although not all types of fish are showing the same levels, and some are not showing any appreciable contamination.

As a result, Buesseler concludes that there may be a continuing source of radionuclides into the ocean, either in the form of low-level leaks from the reactor site itself or contaminated sediment on the seafloor. In addition, the varying levels of contamination across fish types points to complex methods of uptake and release by different species, making the task of regulation and of communicating the reasons behind decision-making to the fish-hungry Japanese public all the more difficult.

"To predict the how patterns of contamination will change over time will take more than just studies of fish," said Buesseler, who led an international research cruise in 2011 to study the spread of radionuclides from Fukushima. "What we really need is a better understanding of the sources and sinks of cesium and other radionuclides that continue to drive what we're seeing in the ocean off Fukushima."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. O. Buesseler. Fishing for Answers off Fukushima. Science, 2012; 338 (6106): 480 DOI: 10.1126/science.1228250

Cite This Page:

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "Fishing for answers off Fukushima." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025150359.htm>.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (2012, October 25). Fishing for answers off Fukushima. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025150359.htm
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "Fishing for answers off Fukushima." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025150359.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) — Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) — NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) — Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins