There are growing fears over how the increasing amount of radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may affect peoples health, but did anyone think about what will happen to the sea?
The Fukushima power plant is situated by the sea, and Japan‘s nuclear safety agency has reported that the radioactive iodine is 3,355 times the legal limit in the seawater. Also, according to the New York Times, the current levels of certain radioactive isotopes like cesium 137 and iodine 131 have elevated.
Knowing how close the plant is to the sea, you would expect a major fear of radiation affecting sea life in the given area. All life on Earth, are exposed to natural ionising radiation but excessive exposure to radiation can mutate DNA and prevent the body from repairing broken genes.
When radiation spreads to the sea, there are several events that could happen. One event is where marine animals will just die and another is with the creation of mutations in offspring. With the mutations and radioactivity passing on from offspring, to offspring, the radiation can continue into the food chain.
Joseph Rachlin, director of Lehman College‘s Laboratory for Marine and Estuarine research in New York has stated that,
“There will be a potential for a certain amount of lethality of living organisms, but that’s less of a concern than the possible effects on the genetics of the animals that become exposed,” Rachlin said.
“That’s the main problem as I see it with radiation—altering the genetics of the animal and interfering with reproduction.”
In contrast to this, a radioecologist by the name of F.Ward Whicker says that there is no danger seen in the current radiation levels. Radiation levels needed for the alteration in genetics of an animal is bigger then any radiation level seen so far on Earth.
Despite what he said the current levels are enough to affect larvae and marine organism’s eggs. If they are exposed to high levels of radiation they may mutate and pass off their mutation to the next generation. The only marine organisms that may be affected by this are soft-bodied invertebrates like jellyfish and marine worms, although there is a chance fish may also be affected.
Although, there is a huge opportunity for a lasting radiation impact on marine life. If the current situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is resolved then there will be no lasting affect. If the situation continues over several months then there will be a serious consequences to Japan’s marine life.