Former nuclear site Bikini Atoll has thriving ecosystem

Bikini Atoll, the former paradise island used by the US to carry out 23 nuclear weapons tests 70 years ago, is now teeming with life, scientists have found.

The Pacific Ocean island has blooming populations of plants and animal life, filled with fish such as snapper, sharks and tuna while boasting corals as big as cars.

Crabs the size of hubcaps are said to be feasting on coconuts filled with radioactive groundwater as part of an ecosystem described by experts as 'remarkably resilient'.

Scientists are now sequencing the DNA of the Bikini Atoll coral to better understand how they are able to survive.

The study may help researchers better understand how certain DNA can combat genetic diseases, such as cancer. 

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The former nuclear test site Bikini Atoll has blooming populations of plants and animal life, teeming with fish such as snapper, sharks and tuna while boasting corals as big as cars. Pictured is a researcher studying coral at the site

The former nuclear test site Bikini Atoll has blooming populations of plants and animal life, teeming with fish such as snapper, sharks and tuna while boasting corals as big as cars. Pictured is a researcher studying coral at the site

BIKINI ATOLL 

During the Cold War, the US detonated 23 nuclear bombs at Bikini Atoll, including a device in 1954 that was 1,100-times more powerful than the Hiroshima atom bomb.

The blasts, detonated in the years between 1946 and 1954, exposed corals and other species to persistent, high levels of radioactivity.

At the time of the tests, residents of the islands were moved to other locations, and the site has remained uninhabited  beyond a handful of caretakers since.

A 2012 report to the United Nations stated that there was 'near-irreversible environmental contamination' to the former nuclear site.

But scientists have found that populations of coral, crabs, fish and sharks are thriving at Bikini Atoll.

A researcher told the Guardian that fish populations are thriving because they have been left alone - 'in a strange way they are protected by the history of this place'. 

The findings, led by scientists at Stanford University in northern California, featured in an episode of Big Pacific aired on June 28, a natural history TV series on PBS.

The five-part series, which looked at strange wildlife populations in the Pacific Ocean, did not air in the UK but will be available to buy on DVD later this year. 

The study focused on reports of mutant sharks that are missing their second dorsal fin around a submerged hydrogen bomb crater near the island.

Professor Steve Palumbi, a marine scientist at Stanford whose team have been studying the effects of radiation poisoning on marine life, said the bizarre ecosystem is 'remarkably resilient'.

He said that, to the naked eye, the crabs, fish and corals around Bikini Atoll look perfectly

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