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

 

Fisheries: Report On Underrsize Snapper Catch

The report found that commercial fishers caught 144 tonnes of undersized snapper in the Snapper 1 area – about 3% of the total commercial catch – in the year ending February 2015. The area stretches from the top of the North Island to the Bay of Plenty and is one of New Zealand’s most important fisheries. More>>

ALSO:

Tourism: China Southern Airlines To Fly To Christchurch

China Southern Airlines, in partnership with Christchurch Airport and the South Island tourism industry, has announced today it will begin flying directly between Guangzhou, Mainland China and the South Island. More>>

ALSO:

Dodgy: Truck Shops Come Under Scrutiny

Mobile traders, or truck shops, target poorer communities, particularly in Auckland, with non-compliant contracts, steep prices and often lower-quality goods than can be bought at ordinary shops, a Commerce Commission investigation has found. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Transport: Government, Council Agree On Funding Approach

The government and Auckland Council have reached a detente over transport funding, establishing a one-year, collaborative timetable for decisions on funding for the city's transport infrastructure growth in the next 30 years after the government refused to fund the $2 billion of short and medium-term plans outlined in Auckland's draft Unitary Plan. More>>

ALSO:

Bullish On China Shock: Slumping Equities, Commodities May Continue, But Not A GFC

The biggest selloff in stock markets in at least four years, slumping commodity prices and a surge in Wall Street's fear gauge don't mean the world economy is heading for another global financial crisis, fund managers say. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news