By Janet Fang
Posting in Cities
So far, forests near Fukushima have only been studied from the air. Now, researchers are enlisting the help of monkey assistants equipped with radiation-measuring collars.
Researchers from Fukushima University are planning to equip local, wild monkeys with special collars to help track contamination levels in places that are hard for us to reach.
"We would like to know how much impact (the radiation has) on the natural world, such as forest, river, underground water and ocean," says lead researcher Takayuki Takahashi of Fukushima University. "We will draw the map to show the movement of radioactivity."
This will help reveal the long term effects of radiation on animals, as well as how radiation spreads in the forest as it transfers between animals and plants.
The collars worn by the monkey assistants will be equipped with:
- a dosimeter, a small radiation-measuring instrument
- GPS tracking
- a device that detects the monkey’s distance from the ground as the radiation level is measured.
“As the radiation moves from the forest to the ocean, it is important to set a baseline of knowledge to see how it affects humans and animals in the long run,” Takahashi adds.
The team plans to study the mountainous region up against Minamisoma city, about 16 miles north of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. As many as 14 groups of monkeys are residing in those forests.
As early as February, 2 or 3 monkeys will be tracked for a month or two, after which the collars will detach (via remote control) and the data will be picked up.
The researchers hope the study will run for at least 5 years in order to thoroughly track the effects of cesium 137, which has a half-life of 30 years. A wild boar might be fitted with a collar later too.
Image by whisperwolf via Flickr
Dec 20, 2011
Isn't it bad enough that we have irradiated them in the first place. And now we want them to work for us to figure out how much damage we are doing to the environment. If we were really compassionate and caring humans, we would instead be capturing and relocating the monkeys to other areas free from the contamination. If we are so gung ho to learn about the impact of Fukushima, why not strap some of those devices on some human volunteers to do the same thing. Or is the life of a human more valuable than the life of the monkey? Not from the monkey's perspective!
Although I sympathize with dor100, the monkey situation in Japan is very complicated. There is very little land left for them to live in in their natural state. Though they do need a place to live, locating them near human towns and cities would do neither them or us much good. What really needs to be addressed is resort development which is taking their habitat away from them. At least, the monkeys in Fukushima will be protected in a certain sense. Monkey mischief will probably be put up with better than it is in some areas of Japan. Nevertheless, if there were a way to relocate them, I'd be all for it. I'd also be interested in what could be done for the other animals, domestic and wild, left in the Fukushima area.