Kelp: still no signs of Fukushima radiation

The first collection of kelp samples along the western US coastline revealed no signs of ocean-borne radiation from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

Scientists working on "Kelp Watch 2014" got the results from samples primarily collected from February 24 through March 14.

"Our data does not show the presence of Fukushima radioisotopes in West Coast Giant Kelp or Bull Kelp," Steven Manley, marine biology professor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).

"These results should reassure the public that our coastline is safe, and that we are monitoring it for these materials. At the same time, these results provide us with a baseline from which we can compare samples gathered later in the year."

During the first phase of the project, samples were taken from 38 of the 44 sites originally identified, and the data being presented comes from an analysis of 28 of the 38 sample sites represented.

The samples analyzed to date were gathered from as far north as Kodiak Island, Alaska, to as far south as Baja California. Two sites in the tropics-Hawaii and Guam, where non-kelp brown algae were sampled (kelps are not found in the tropics) were also negative for Fukushima radiation.

"One of the goals of Kelp Watch 2014 is to keep the public informed, to let them know we are on top of this event, and to document the amount of Fukushima radiation that enters our kelp forest ecosystem."

The second of the three 2014 sampling periods is scheduled to begin in early July.