Muttonbirds affected by Fukushima – researcher
By Paul Harper 10:55 AM Monday Apr 30, 2012
Some muttonbirds returning to New Zealand for the mating season have been in bad condition – and the Fukushima nuclear disaster could be to blame.
The meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be responsible for a decline in New Zealand’s muttonbird population.
A Department of Conservation study found only two-thirds of birds returned to an area near Auckland, after spending the northern summer in Japan – some only 20km from the plant, which was crippled in Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in March last year.
The birds return to New Zealand in November to mate, but DOC seabird researcher Graeme Taylor told Radio New Zealand the ones that returned were in poor condition.
“We won’t know if they’ve died up there in the north Pacific until another year goes by, because sometimes these birds skip a breeding season- where if they are in a poor condition they don’t attempt to breed, and so they may turn up again and breed.
“But if the birds never turn up again then you have to start to wonder what’s gone on with the population.”
Mr Taylor said the research only looked at a small sub-sample of the breeding population, but it was the drop in numbers was the “most unusual event” in 20 years of studies of the birds’ numbers.
He said many of the birds which arrived back had old feathers on their tails, wings and body.
“I’ve never seen birds in that poor of a condition come back to New Zealand.”
He said the condition of muttonbirds suggested they did not get the food in the north Pacific they usually do.
The Fukushima disaster may be responsible, he said, although the La Nino weather pattern which lay over New Zealand last year may have been a factor.
This website updates the latest news about the Fukushima nuclear plant and also archives the past news from 2011. Because it's always updated and added live, articles, categories and the tags are not necessarily fitted in the latest format.
I am the writer of this website. About page remains in 2014. This is because my memory about 311 was clearer than now, 2023, and I think it can have a historical value. Now I'm living in Romania with 3 cats as an independent data scientist.
Actually, nothing has progressed in the plant since 2011. We still don't even know what is going on inside. They must keep cooling the crippled reactors by water, but additionally groundwater keeps flowing into the reactor buildings from the broken parts. This is why highly contaminated water is always produced more than it can circulate. Tepco is planning to officially discharge this water to the Pacific but Tritium is still remaining in it. They dilute this with seawater so that it is legally safe, but scientifically the same amount of radioactive tritium is contained. They say it is safe to discharge, but none of them have drunk it.