[Coral-List] Distressing News for the Whole Pacific Ocean

GJ GJ at fishion.eu
Sat Sep 7 18:16:45 EDT 2013

Hmm, well. As someone who has also been diving at Enewetak once told me, there were not only thriving corals, but also lots and lots of large fish. A similar observation has been made at Palmyra, where there is virtually no fishing (Stevenson et al 2006 in Coral Reefs). 

Ironically, if hysteria would lead to a complete refusal to eat fish from the Pacific, the relieve from the consistent intense industrial fishing pressure would most probably by far counter any radiation effects leading to recovery of many fish stocks and in the long run we might even see some ecosystem recovery. 

Losing sleep wouldn't be fun, of course, but it might make the fish happy :-)

By which I don't mean to imply that we should hope for more accidents with nuclear power plants, because we humans are not able to regulate our fishing to responsible levels...

Best wishes, GJ

Dr Gert Jan Gast - Fishion Consultancy
Koningin Wilhelminakade 227, 1975GL, IJmuiden, The Netherlands
Mob phone: +31 6 5424 0126
-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Eugene Shinn
Sent: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 5:47 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Distressing News for the Whole Pacific Ocean

Listers, Don't loose too much sleep or become hysterical over the radioactivity in Pacific waters far beyond Japanese waters.  Here is some background that might ease your concerns. In the 1970s some very interesting coral research came out of the Mid Pacific Marine Lab at Enewetak in the Marshall Islands.  Although the tests at Bikini are more well publicized more that 40 atomic devices, including the first hydrogen bomb, were tested at Enewetak in the 1950s and early 1960s. 
After the tests researchers at the Mid Pacific lab on Enewetak studied many aspects of biology including growth banding in head corals. Corals were sawed and the sawed surface  was placed on X-ray film for several days in the dark. These corals in essence took their own picture and radioactive bands provided elegant proof that growth bands were annual. 
Although the growth bands laid down during detonations  clearly showed on the film the corals also showed no effect from radiation and continued to grow at pre-test rates. Later in 1983 I spent many hours diving in two of the largest fusion bomb craters. Several of us were coring a digging around in the craters to determine the size of the craters at the instant of the explosion (craters had enlarged during the intervening years). As part of our work Harold Hudson cored many 3-m high Porities heads in near  proximity of a 200 foot deep crater made by a 9 megaton blast. Geiger counter scans of the cores revealed the slightly radioactive zone made by the bomb. His study showed that Subsequent growth was not reduced. In addition, Hudson cored several meter-high heads that had begun growing within the edge of a smaller crater. Growth bands showed they settled and began growing less than a year after the device was exploded (published in proceedings of the Tahiti International Coral Reef Symposium). Sometime later I happened to talk with the dive master at Scripts Institute of Oceanography.  He told me he had dived in that crater 3-days after the blast! Another lesson we learned from the dosimeter we all carried was that we were exposed to more radiation flying at 30,000 ft to get to Enewetak than we encountered in and around the craters. This was a great surprise because we all knew that Plutonium has a 22,000 year half life. Certainly the waters had been highly contaminated by the events but had drifted off the atoll and was diluted in the surrounding depths. Most of the radioactivity had gone up into the atmosphere.  I know this is not the same as release of radioactive cooling water but shows that corals were not noticeably affected by the intense radiation they must have received when the devises were exploded. I might add that none of us involved in this research were affected that we know of. Maybe that's why I am forced to write these reports. However, remember there is a lot of water between Japan, the coral atolls, and the US west coast. Not to worry. Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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