[MARINE_BIOLOGY_INTERNATIONAL] Radiation: Yet another reason not to eat whales


Radioactive Material Detected In Whales Caught By Japanese Fishermen

HEALTH REPORT: Radiation From Japan's Nuclear Plants Found In...
Posted: 10:56 pm PDT June 15, 2011
Updated: 11:57 pm PDT June 15, 2011

BERKELEY, Calif. -- Japanese fisheries officials announced Wednesday that they found trace amounts of radioactive cesium-137 in at least two Pacific minke whales that were recently harpooned for food.
The radiation almost certainly came from the crippled Fukushima reactor.
Douglas Long, a biologist at the Oakland museum, said marine mammals are often looked at as the "canaries in the coal mine" for the planet's oceans.
Long told KTVU minke whales are shy, 25-foot-long filter feeders that scoop small crustaceans and fish from the water.
He said their radioactive contamination could have come directly from the water, but there are other possibilities.
"It could have come from animals that they're eating," explained Long. "So it's already making its way up in the food chain possibly."
Japan said it has never tested whale meat for radiation before and the levels found are 20-times below their government food limit.
"So these are tiny amounts. We should not be alerted. Again our instrumentation is very very sensitive," said Prof. Jasmina Vujic, a University of California at Berkeley nuclear engineer.
Vujic said natural radiation in human bodies is several times higher than the cesium reported in the whales.
"We are constantly irradiated at level which is much higher than what was found in the whales," said Vujic.
Still, cesium-137 has a half life of about 30 years. It is chemically similar to calcium, so is easily taken up in living things.
Long said even though the radiation might be in small doses, "it could have longer term impacts over the life history of the animal."
Scientists said they will not be surprised if these new findings of radioactivity are just the first of many.

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