Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Research into muttonbird exposure to Fukushima radiation

New funding for research into muttonbird exposure to Fukushima radiation

Scientists from the University of Auckland will undertake research to test whether New Zealand muttonbirds that spend the winter off the coast of Japan may have been exposed to radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Scientists from the University of Auckland will undertake research to test whether New Zealand muttonbirds that spend the winter off the coast of Japan may have been exposed to radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The new research is being funded by the Lottery Health Research fund with $26,028 for a pilot study to investigate whether radioactive cesium has entered the New Zealand ecosystem or food chain via the birds.

Researchers will test the birds’ feathers for gamma rays that indicate the presence of the radioactive isotope cesium-134. Feathers will be collected from prime muttonbird sites in the South Island, particularly Stewart Island.

New Zealand sooty shearwaters or titi (Puffinus griseus) migrate annually, spending the summer mating and raising their chicks in New Zealand before over-wintering off the coast of Japan.

“There is no evidence to indicate that the birds have been vectors of radioactivity so this research is very much about taking a precautionary approach,” says Dr David Krofcheck of the University of Auckland’s Department of Physics.

“But detection of gamma rays would tell us whether the birds spend sufficient time near Fukushima to accumulate cesium-134 from nuclear fission. Obviously the issue would then become whether that radioactivity is being absorbed into local ecosystems or the food chain.”

Pacific Bluefin tuna caught off the west coast of the United States show only a minute trace of cesium-134 from Fukushima, 100 times less than normal radioactive elements found in fish.

The sooty shearwater is of cultural and economic value to Maori, who sustainably harvest the nearly fledged chicks during the annual muttonbird season. The season runs from April to May and is restricted to Maori and their whanau who use the birds for food, oil and feather down.

Dr Krofcheck says consultation with Maori, the Rakiura Titi Islands Administering Body, about the research will begin as soon as possible.

“We will need to go through a number of approval processes and engage in consultation with local people before anything can happen as there are sensitive issues to consider before work can begin,” Dr Krofcheck says.

The research is being done in collaboration with the Department of Zoology, University of Otago.

Previous tests on muttonbird exposure to radiation from Fukushima found no evidence of cesium being passed from parents to chicks.

“Our study is complementary to that earlier work but tests feathers instead of the birds themselves,” Dr Krofcheck says. “Obviously what we are hoping to find in this latest research is that cesium levels in muttonbirds do not exceed exposure levels you would expect from natural sources.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Company Results: Air NZ Rides The Tourism Boom With Record Full-Year Earnings

Air New Zealand has ridden the tourism boom and staved off increased competition to deliver the best full-year earnings in its 76-year history. More>>

ALSO:

New PGP: Sheep Milk Industry Gets $12.6M Crown Funding

The Sheep - Horizon Three programme aims to develop "a market driven, end-to-end value chain generating annual revenues of between $200 million and $700 million by 2030," according to a joint statement. More>>

ALSO:

Half Full: Fonterra Raises Forecast Milk Price

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today increased its 2016/17 forecast Farmgate Milk Price by 50 cents to $4.75 per kgMS. When combined with the forecast earnings per share range for the 2017 financial year of 50 to 60 cents, the total payout available to farmers in the current season is forecast to be $5.25 to $5.35 before retentions. More>>

ALSO:

Keep Digging: Seabed Ironsands Miner TransTasman Tries Again

The first company to attempt to gain a resource consent to mine ironsands from the ocean floor in New Zealand's Exclusive Economic Zone has lodged a new application containing fresh scientific and other evidence it hopes will persuade regulators after their initial application was turned down in 2014. More>>

Wool Pulled: Duvets Sold As ‘Premium Alpaca’ Mostly Sheep’s Wool

Rotorua business Budge Collection Limited (Budge) and sole director, Sun Dong Kim, were convicted and fined a total of $71,250 in Auckland District Court after each pleading guilty to four charges of misrepresenting how much alpaca fibre was in their duvets. More>>

Reserve Bank: Labour Calls For Monetary Policy To Expand Goals

Labour's comments follow a speech today by RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler in which Wheeler sought to answer critics who variously say he should stop lowering interest rates, lower them faster, or that inflation-targeting should no longer be the primary goal of the central bank's activities. More>>

ALSO:

BSA Extension And Sunday Morning Ads: Digital Convergence Bill Captures Online Content

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams has today announced the Government’s plans to update the Broadcasting Act to better reflect today’s converged market... The Government considered four areas as part of its review into content regulation: classification requirements, advertising restrictions, election programming and contestable funding. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news