Mutations on butterflies in Japan have surfaced indicating a change to the local ecosystem due to the Fukushima nuclear accident a year ago. Researches at the University of Ryukyus in Okinaway collected 144 pale grass blue butterflies two months after the Fukushima-Dai ichi nucleur accident in March 2011.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred when the mammoth earthquake hit Japan that turned into a tsunami which knocked out a power line at the plant destroying the plant's cooling system. A meltdown occurred in three reactors that released widespread radiation into the surrounding environment.
The results of the butterfly research showed that about 12 percent of the butterflies had some sort of abnormality whether it be smaller sized wings, or strange color patterns, or disfigured antennae. When Joji Otaki, who led the research collected 238 more samples some six months later, the abnormalities increase to 28 percent and the mutations were at 52 percent in their offspring.
Unaffected clean butterflies were fed cesium-coated leaves that were collected from Fukushima and the result was a reduction in size of the butterflies and a lowered survival rate.
Otaki has been studying these butterflies for ten years to see the effects of global warming and he said that butterflies are the best indicator because they are found in almost any environment. "But since we've seen these effects on butterflies, it's easy to imagine that it would also have affected other species as well. It's pretty clear that something has gone wrong with the ecosystem," he said according to NBC News.
He also said that because every species sensitivity to radiation differs, that it's too early to apply the butterfly finding mutations on humans.
But what is clear, said Otaki, is that the genetic changes found in these butterflies indicate a disruption in Fukushima's ecosystem and that more study is needed to learn the full scope of the effects of the radiation released into the environment.
"Effects of low level radiation is genetically transferred through generation, which suggests genetic damage. I think it's clear that we see the effects passed on through generations," Otaki added to NBC News.