Sunday, 03 April 2016 15:34

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: „The radiation puts an enormous stress on the flora and fauna in the evacuation zone."

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Science Artist: "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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Without provoking or causing a scandal, wants to shake things up a bit by encouraging society to reflect on a subject that affects all of us: nuclear power. It is a subject that polarises, turning opponents and supporters into ideologues. And it is a subject that divides the informed and the uninformed in a way that creates intentional and unintentional dependencies. Against the background of the current debates on the 'energy transition', we want to contribute a critical discussion for all those who want to more know about nuclear power. And we want to do our bit to overcome the deep ideological divide that separates supporters and opponents. When it comes to this subject, the truth very quickly becomes relative – or is made relative. You move around in an area where experts, opinion makers, ideologues, affected persons, victims, lobbyists, politicians and world saviours jostle against each other. Everyone should be able to have their say, to tell their truth. The truth of the radiation victims as well as that of the power plant operators, the supporters and the opponents. The second objective of the book is to explore the many facets of truth – and remain receptive to all those who want to make it comfortable for us.

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