All aboard the Fukushima cruise

Scientists take to the seas to study the effects of Fukushima radiation on local marine life.

By Cristina Luiggi | June 6, 2011

Kaimikai -O- Kanoloa research vesselNOAA

An international team of scientists set sail off the eastern coast of Japan this Saturday to study the effects of radiation leaked from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant on local marine life. The expedition will last 15 days and will survey an area of around 400 square kilometers that is often fished for seafood such as tuna. The lead researcher, Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), told ScienceInsider that in addition to monitoring organisms' uptake of common radioactive isotopes such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, the team will also measure rarer isotopes such as plutonium and strontium. Although radioactivity is expected, by this point, to be diluted to nontoxic levels, the data will help researchers better understand how these isotopes are dispersed throughout the ocean and through the food chain.

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