The suffering of the barn swallows

Written by  Urs Fitze (Text und Bild)

The Danish evolutionary biologist Anders Pape Møller says after more than 20 years research on barn swallows in the evacuation zone: "the swallows are afflicted by the radiation to an alarming degree."

The Danish evolutionary biologist Anders Pape Møller has been studying swallows in the Chernobly exclusion zone and its surroundings since 1993 and spends the breeding season there. He is one of the leading experts in the world and has captured, examined, banded and released tens of thousands of birds. Collecting data in Chernobyl is a complicated at best: blood and semen samples, weight, tail length, general condition and other factors are collected from trapped birds in zones of differing radiation intensity. But the results are clear: the swallows are afflicted by the radiation to an alarming degree. Everything twentieth swallows suffers from a tumour; back in Denmark, Møller hasn't found a single tumour in tens of thousands of birds. The higher the radiation, the lower the male fertility. Visible signs of radiation damage include discolouration of the plumage and deformed tail feathers. But this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, says Møller. "Every since Madame Curie, we've known that radioactive radiation is dangerous. It's just that no one wants to hear about it."

 

The studies from Anders Møller and his colleagues are online at the website of the "Chernobyl Research Initiative".

 

read more:

Timothy Mousseau, biologist, USA: „The radiation puts an enormous stress on the flora and fauna in the evacuation zone."

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Science Artist, Zurich, Switzerland: "Horrible Deformations"

 

 

Living in the evacuation zone (all images: Urs Fitze)

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Deformed Nature: Spider Webs in the Evacuatin Zone (all images: Timothy Mousseau

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Vassili Alexejewitsch Marchinko: nuclear engineer, liquidator, contaminated by radiation

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