The Ill Fate of Bikini Atoll, X-ray Images of a Fish Revealed how Radiation Affects the Ecosystem

by Unbelievable Facts5 years ago
Picture The Ill Fate of Bikini Atoll, X-ray Images of a Fish Revealed how Radiation Affects the Ecosystem

Bikini Atoll is a coral reef that vivaciously spreads across the Marshal Islands in the Pacific Ocean. This is one of the most exotic places in the world which has now been completely disrupted by human experiments. This amazing piece of the Earth became a focus for nuclear testing and lost it aura completely. The destruction was so complete that it caused the radioactive elements to spread into the ecosystem. Here is what happened to the Bikini Atoll.

Life in the Bikini Atoll before the United States took it over for nuclear testing is not what we see now. After World War II, the Bikini Atoll was chosen as the testing site of atomic bombs, and the natives were evacuated from their territory.

Bikini Atoll
Image credits: U.S. Department of Energy/Flickr

The Bikini Atoll had skilled cultivators and fishermen. It was one-of-a-kind of Heaven on Earth, and the people there loved the serenity. Their peace was invaded by the nuclear bomb testers. After the Second World War, the United States built nuclear weapons that were very much similar to the ones used during the war to destroy Nagasaki, Japan. They planned to test the intensity of these harsh and harmful nuclear weapons, especially on fleets of ships.

This led to the forced evacuation of the natives of the Marshall Islands. These islands were chosen because of their deep lagoon. No international ships traveled across this area, and this was an added advantage to conduct experiments in this place. A team of over forty thousand members that included soldiers from the US Navy and Army, civilian technicians and scientists from renowned universities joined hands in conducting the nuclear experiments.

The impact of “Operation Crossroads” on Bikini Atoll was disastrous. The promise of the US to the natives there was just a dream.

On the onward preparation of the Cold War, for twelve years continuously, the United States of America engaged with the Soviet Union and carried out a series of nuclear tests, and called it “Operation Crossroads.” These were a series that involved over 23 detonations between 1946 until early 1958. They promised the Bikinians they would be able to return their land as soon as the nuclear tests where done. They also said that these nuclear tests would bring benefits to mankind and prevent further wars. However, this did not happen according to their promise. Commencing from 1946 until 1958, mankind destroyed nature, bringing out the worst impact on the flora and fauna of the region.


The nuclear test “Able” was the first of the 67 series of nuclear tests in the Bikini Atoll. This test detonated before reaching the target and caused severe air pollution.

Nuclear test - Able
Image credits: National Archives/Dailymail

The first test was called “Test Able.” This was the first test conducted among the 67 series of nuclear tests and included the explosion of “Bomb Gilda” on 1 July 1946. A fleet of ninety-five ships was parked along the reef of the Bikini Atoll lagoon. Gilda was dropped down by B-29, the same type of airplane used during the Korean War and also World War II. The bomb exploded before reaching the target, and the experiment caused less damage than was the estimation. This air denotation test led to the formation of a large Wilson cloud in the humid air.

Nuclear Test Baker – The second test after Able which worsened the environment was detonated underwater. This was the root cause of the radioactive elements being spread in the water bodies.

Nuclear test- Baker
Image credits: Tjokanche/Youtube

The second test that was a part of Operation Crossroads was Test Baker. After the air test, the team of experts targeted the water body and placed the bomb ninety feet underneath the water. The bomb used here was called “Helen of Bikini,” and its explosion caused a massive radioactive spray that contaminated the water body immensely.

Castle Bravo, the cause of the extremely hazardous “mushroom cloud,” was a thousand times more effective than the Hiroshima bombing. With this disaster, the US finally had to close down the nuclear tests.

Castle bravo
Image credits: Atomcentral/Youtube

The tests continued and the environment kept deteriorating. On the first of March during 1954, the United States of America once again caused an enormous denotation of a hydrogen bomb that weighed fifteen megatons. This bomb, called “Castle Bravo,” was a thousand times more powerful and dangerous than the bombs used during the Hiroshima blasts. It led to the formation of a mushroom-shaped cloud in the atmosphere that was extremely hazardous. With all the life-taking destruction caused, The United States Of America finally closed down its experiments.


The nuclear testing aftermath effects were heart-wrenching for the Bikinians who dreamed of getting back to their land. The radioactive elements from the bombing tests polluted the air, water, and soil making life impossible on the land of the Bikini Atoll.

Destruction of Bikini Atoll
Image credits: W.A.Schurcliff/Wikimedia

The natives of Bikini Atoll sighed with relief thinking that they would again be able to settle down in their hometown, however, their relief was short-lived because of the post-experiment effects. The contamination caused by the explosions and denotations left long-term destruction and radioactive effects in this geological region. Isotopes like plutonium, bismuth, and americium along with other radioactive elements have invaded the air, water, and soil of the Bikini Atoll and have made the land unfit for the human race to exist.

During these two decades of mammoth wrecking and ruination, many ecologists and biologists came to with this piece of land to research and bring out a solution to the problems. One such research led to a shocking revelation that shocked scientists.

Radioactive fish from the Bikini Atoll showed how radiation affected the ecosystem. Nuclear bomb emission spread drastically in the ecosystem and the fish in the region carried radioactive elements like plutonium.

Radioactive fish
Image credits: Neal O. Hines Papers, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections via Slate

Exactly a year after the denotation of the Able and Baker bombs, Biologists and ecologists from the University of Washington went fishing and caught a fish from the waters of the Bikini Atoll lagoon. This was placed on a photographic plate and an x-ray of it was taken. An autoradiograph of a fish, an x-ray picture, was made by radiation coming from the fish itself. The x-ray of this fish showed a white light emitted. This was produced due to the radioactive element plutonium found in the body of the fish.


The radioactive elements spread quickly in both air and water. It reached and disrupted the geographical places that were far away from the testing land. These radioactive elements, along with contamination and pollution, made conditions ripe for chronic health issues such as leukemia, thyroid cancer, and other deadly health conditions. The coral reef in the Marshall Islands was destroyed. The explosions also were the root cause of a 94-foot-tall tsunami to occur in the Pacific region.

Bikini Atoll after seven decades still remains unsafe today.

Bikini Atoll
Image credits: Ron Van Oers/Wikimedia

It has almost been seventy years now, but the effects of the nuclear tests still linger around affected areas. It is one of the deadly destructions of the environment and ecosystem caused by mankind. Today, this place is recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO and is a tourist place, however, none are advised to stay over there and get into the water which remains contaminated.

[Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

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Picture The Ill Fate of Bikini Atoll, X-ray Images of a Fish Revealed how Radiation Affects the Ecosystem
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