Over 50 years after thelast atomic blast shook the Pacific atoll of Bikini,a team of scientists have discovered that the corals are flourishing again. Theyhave seen however, that some of the species appear to be locally extinct.
These are the findings of aremarkable investigation by an international team of scientists from Australia, Germany,Italy, Hawaiiand the Marshall Islands.The expedition examined the diversity and abundance of marine life in the atoll.
One of the most interestingaspects is that the team dived into the vast Bravo Crater left in 1954 by themost powerful American atom bomb ever exploded (15 megatonnes – a thousandtimes more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb). The Bravo bomb vapourised threeislands, raised water temperatures to 55,000 degrees, shook islands 200kilometers away and left a crater 2km wide and 73m deep.
According to the originalnews articles, ZoeRichards of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University dived into thecrater and found huge matrices of branching Porites coral (up to 8 meters high)had established, creating thriving coral reef habitat. He also says that the healthy condition of thecoral at Bikini atoll today is proof of theirresilience and ability to rebound from massive disturbances provided the reefis undisturbed and there are healthy nearby reefs to source the recovery.
The research has apparentlyrevealed a high level of loss of coral species from the atoll. On comparing thestudy made before the atomic tests were carried out in the 1950s, with the currentfindings, it was established that 42 species were missing. At least 28 of thesespecies losses appear to be genuine local extinctions possibly due to the 23bombs that exploded in the region between1946-58, or the resultingradioactivity, increased nutrient levels and smothering from fine sediments.