Still lies the lake, in the midst of forests. If you bring a Geiger counter, you can hear it clatter excitedly. The damaged nuclear power plant of Chernobyl is only ten kilometers away. A man dips a small butcher in the clear water and fishes over the old leaves on the ground. His prey: many dozen armored creatures that can whiz along amazingly fast on their seven pairs of legs. But in the bucket they can not escape.
The man is Neil Fuller, PhD student at the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Portsmouth. Fuller wants to understand how living things cope with radioactively contaminated water. He was already in Fukushima. What he now collects in the Ukraine are water lice of the species Asellus aquaticus, as they are in Europe. And they have survived the high radiation dose in the Glubokoje lake, surprisingly unscathed. Fuller will take a close look at the segments that make up her body. In this lake he expects deformations. And he will count the eggs of the pregnant females, which they walk under their bellies. It will not be very many. He examines, counts and finds: nothing. Each of the seven segments of the breastplate is wonderfully symmetrical. And the females have many, beautifully developed children in their luggage.
Water is everywhere around Chernobyl. But most of it is connected to the river Prypjat. Over time, he let the radiation flow away. The Glubokoje Lake, however, belongs to six lakes without river access. After the short-lived radioisotopes have decayed, 137-cesium and 90-strontium have accumulated there today. Lake Glubokoye is the most radioactive with 27 microsieverts per hour. Above all, its radiant cargo has settled on the bottom of the waters where the water lice are eating. “We examined six different lakes with different loads. We had expected that the higher the radiation exposure, the more deformation and less well-developed eggs we find, “Fuller writes. “But that was wrong. Ironically, there is no effect of radiation on the woodlice. “
Ideal whistleblower for the pollution of an ecosystem
Woodlice were actually considered to be ideal whistleblowers for the pollution of an ecosystem. They feed on the remnants of life that gather on the ground. Old leaves, small carcasses. They eat everything twice. Once, when it's lying around in its original shape. And a second time, because they also plaster the feces that they make out of it. Whether heavy metals or medicines – whatever brought people into the environment, in the woodlice it must be enriched.
Like lobster or crab, woodlice are among the higher crabs. Water fleas also belong to this group. Also with them there were examinations in radioactive milieu. They were significantly impaired from chronic radiation exposure to 137 cesium from seven microgray per hour. Fewer females carried eggs. And the DNA of these embryos showed clear radiation damage. Fuller still can not explain what the rattles do differently. He is also still not sure whether water lice in an English pond would have reacted just as in the contaminated since 1986 Glubokoje Lake. “It may be that the woodlice around Chernobyl have adapted to radioactivity through random mutations. There are already thirty generations since then. It could also be that they just cope with it. “