Assessing Fukushima-derived radiocesium in migratory Pacific predators

??? Good news if true…

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The 2011 release of Fukushima-derived radionuclides into the Pacific Ocean made migratory sharks, teleosts, and marine mammals a source of speculation and anxiety regarding radiocesium (134+137Cs) contamination, despite a lack of actual radiocesium measurements for these taxa.

We measured radiocesium in a diverse suite of large predators from the North Pacific Ocean and report no detectable (i.e., ≥ 0.1 Bq kg-1 dry wt) of Fukushima-derived 134Cs in all samples, except in one olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) with trace levels (0.1 Bq kg-1).

Levels of 137Cs varied within and across taxa, but were generally consistent with pre-Fukushima levels and were lower than naturally-occurring 40K by one to two orders of magnitude.

Predator size had a weaker effect on 137Cs and 40K levels than tissue lipid content.

Predator stable isotope values (δ13C and δ15N) were used to infer recent migration patterns, and showed that predators in the central, eastern, and western Pacific should not be assumed to accumulate detectable levels of radiocesium a priori.

Non-detection of 134Cs and low levels of 137Cs in diverse marine megafauna far from Fukushima confirms negligible increases in radiocesium, with levels comparable to those prior to the release from Fukushima.

Reported levels can inform recently developed models of cesium transport and bioaccumulation in marine species.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.7b00680

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