A naturalist working in Japan on the northernmost island of Hokkaido said that the region is seeing a resurgence of life, with many animals that were pushed to the brink of extinction after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster 10 years ago now thriving.
“Animal poaching for [non-local] consumption is considerably down, and tourism has risen,” said Ken Saito, the director of the Prefectural Tropical Amphibian Centre of Hokkaido.
“We used to see 30 to 40 animals a year, but now it’s fewer than 10.”
Saito told The Japan Times that up to 20 species of reptile and amphibians have made a comeback, and that the plant life around the nuclear plant has improved.
“Plants are growing at a higher rate, and fish fish fish have returned to the area from nearby rivers,” he said.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant went into meltdown after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck Japan in March 2011.
The disaster forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, and has left many without clean water and food, and with a fear of radiation.
However, experts say the risk is much smaller than people realize, and has been made more apparent over the last few years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists 13 species of New Zealand hoverfly as endangered because of radiation. Only 11 of the 68 species of albatross has returned to Fukushima, and those birds don’t breed back in the prefecture.
And in 2015, West Virginia researchers reportedly found that the levels of dangerous radioactivity in one sample of high school drinking water were only a tenth of the amount that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control claims.