Scientists used rat snakes to monitor radiation levels in Fukushima

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10 years after the accident at the nuclear plant in Fukushima in Japan caused by a magnitude 9 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami With gigantic waves, the area continues with high levels of radiation.

In recent days, researchers from the University of Georgia in the United States reported, through the scientific journal Ichthyology & Herpetology , They decided to use snakes to monitor radiation levels in the area.

The reptiles used are rat snakes as they are an effective bioindicator of residual radioactivity due to their natural conditions.

Why did they choose rat snakes?

In the report they presented, the scientists explained that they chose 9 rat snakes for this study since these types of reptiles are abundant in the area. This is why the animals were not removed from their natural habitat and this species is an idea because they accumulate high levels of radionuclides on short trips.

The researchers said that the snakes’ constant contact with the ground and the movements they use to move around are important factors in reflecting the levels of contamination.

The objective of this experiment is to be able to determine how great the impact of the nuclear accident was on the surrounding natural areas.

Hanna Gerke, one of the main researchers of this project, pointed out that their study will help them to better understand what was the environmental impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

“Our results indicate that the behavior of animals has a great impact on radiation exposure and the accumulation of pollutants. Study how specific animals use polluted landscapes helps to better understand the environmental impacts of huge nuclear accidents, such as Fukushima and Chernobyl, ”he explained. Gerke, co-author of the study.

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For its part, James C. Beasley, author of the research, explained that the snakes were equipped with GPS and very high-frequency manual tracking. These artifacts were placed on the back of the reptile’s body and with special glues to protect them.

“Snakes are good indicators of environmental pollution because they spend a lot of time in and on the ground, ”he said James and I add: “They have small ranges and are important predators in most ecosystems, and are often relatively long-lived species.”

Finally, the team in charge of carrying out the study pointed out that, thanks to the snakes the level of radioactivity could be monitored at 1718 points.

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