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October 25, 2011 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Chernobyl's Radioactive Wolves
posted by flapjax at midnite (34 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now I'm picturing something like Stalker meets Nu, Pogodi and desperately wanting to see it.
posted by griphus at 7:52 AM on October 25, 2011


I saw that show when it ran, seems like the wolves and other animals are not doing too badly, when you consider what happened.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:54 AM on October 25, 2011


The radioactive Wolf is charging!
posted by The Whelk at 7:56 AM on October 25, 2011


That's the problem with these things — they don't go far enough on a single charge.
posted by Nomyte at 8:03 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


If they lash together to form a raft like fire ants, I'm out.
posted by SharkParty at 8:18 AM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Given that this is Soviet Russia, shouldn't it be neutrons turning hairy and growing teeth on nights with a full moon?
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on October 25, 2011


Needs more David Attenborough.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:30 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get out of here, Stalker!
posted by emmtee at 8:47 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like that despite being in a radioactive exclusion zone, the bird watcher still wears sandals.
posted by Bridymurphy at 8:52 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


They look pretty normal, but I was imagining something akin to Sandy Skoglund's cats.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:01 AM on October 25, 2011


Loved it, thanks.

but don't pick up the little ratties by the tail, please!
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:16 AM on October 25, 2011


Do I have to watch all 52 minutes to find out whether they have gained superpowers?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:19 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It turns out that one of the coolest places in the entire United States of America is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, which started out as a superfund top thirty dirty site with the waste of manufacturing nerve gas and other chemical weapons.

It ain't all an monotonic downward spiral into doom and gloom.
posted by bukvich at 9:19 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Given that this is Soviet Russia, shouldn't it be neutrons turning hairy and growing teeth on nights with a full moon?

How about "In Soviet Russia, wildlife irradiates you!"
posted by The Tensor at 10:06 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


dances_with_sneetches: I'll give away the end. Turns out the only ones who got superpowers were carp. 8 foot long, 40+ pound carp living in the reactor cooling pond. TERRIFYING
posted by slow graffiti at 10:10 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pshaw. Call me when we have evidence of Radioactive Dire Wolves.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:12 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome and beautiful, thanks for posting.
posted by Gwynarra at 10:27 AM on October 25, 2011


Great video - thanks
posted by YAMWAK at 10:34 AM on October 25, 2011


Very nice. Now I've got about halfway through, and I can't stand it: if the scientists have to wear masks to avoid ingesting a single wolf hair, which the narrator says would poison them, then how can the wolves survive--ingesting surely much hair and all other manner of radioactive stuff? Have they developed immunity, or evolved it, or are they just simpler organisms, or do they not live very long? Ok, back to watch the rest.
posted by TreeRooster at 10:40 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Treerooster: I'm not intending to minimize the serious problems around the Chernobyl area, but part of the reason radiation is as much of a problem for people as it is is due to our life spans.

A level of radiation that results in a higher cancer incidence over decades has less impact on creatures that have a life span of a few years. It's not a non-issue, but animals are somewhat less at risk (even apex predators like wolves).
posted by chimaera at 10:44 AM on October 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks chimaera. That makes sense--and implies that the sort of poisoning the scientists are concerned about is the kind that might eventually result in cancer or reproductive problems, as opposed to immediate sickness.
posted by TreeRooster at 10:55 AM on October 25, 2011


It *is* something to worry about -- I would be sure that there's a considerably higher incidence of cancers among the wildlife there than normal, but it's probably not as much of an increase as you'd see in a human population in the same place. And some animals simply are hardier against radioactivity.

I think when most people think of Chernobyl, they picture pastures full of carcasses rather than a massive wildlife resurgence due to an absence of people.
posted by chimaera at 10:59 AM on October 25, 2011


I've also seen coverage about the beautiful wildlife refuge that is the DMZ between North and South Korea. When I went visited the DMZ, looking outward toward the North, it was beautiful, lush vegetation as far as the eye could see.
posted by msbrauer at 11:53 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


dances_with_sneetches: I'll give away the end. Turns out the only ones who got superpowers were carp. 8 foot long, 40+ pound carp living in the reactor cooling pond. TERRIFYING

It turns out one unexpected effect of radiation is breaking down the dimensional barriers between our reality and old versions of Dwarf Fortress.
posted by JHarris at 11:59 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's more at the PBS Nature website.
posted by homunculus at 12:11 PM on October 25, 2011


Chernobyl's Radioactive Wolves...

...shall be the name of my "post-black metal" band.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:06 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course canines are resistant to radiation, Dogmeat can bathe in it without ever needing RadAway.
posted by Blue Meanie at 1:15 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Skip to ~49:00 to watch the dude howling with the radioactive wolves.
posted by vrogy at 4:55 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Russian guy's got mad wolf-calling skills.

Superb documentary . Thanks for posting it.
posted by tbonicus at 7:49 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


1) Why can they never actually give radiation measurements? X times background really isnt' a very useful measurement as background varies by a huge amount.

2) That is a *lot* of protective gear. They must be dealing with alpha-emitters to need thos masks. Which I guess makes sense, what with uranium being one and all. I wonder what the primary isotopes contaminating the region are?

3) This kinda goes against several other studies I've seen, so I'm very skeptical of the information- most of them reported that wildlife appears to be flourishing, key species are having trouble with the radiation, and the mutation rates are very high.

I don't dought that given enough generations though that life will adapt to survive despite higher mutation and cancer levels, it has a way of doing that. Whether it will go back to how it was before the disaster is another question.
posted by Canageek at 9:43 PM on October 25, 2011


I've made this point before here, but it bears repeating: what this shows is the degree to which normal human activity is much worse for nature than a nuclear disaster. James Lovelock offers a master-stroke of sarcasm in The Revenge of Gaia to the effect that because people are so much more destructive of the natural world than is nuclear radiation, we should store radioactive waste in the world's most sensitive ecosystems, just to keep the people out.
posted by dinsdale at 10:43 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


This was an extraordinary documentary.

BTW don't be calling Ukrainian or Byelorussian scientists "Russians" or "Soviets." They stalk wolves. They can find you.
posted by spitbull at 5:29 AM on October 26, 2011


Canageek, there's an interesting dynamic that may be in play with regards to 3). A seemingly high mutation rate may be acceptable, but only in the specifically "flourishing" environment presented by the exclusion zone. The dormice are actually a reasonably appropriate species to examine, as they've had many more generations since the disaster to accumulate finite deleterious effects.
But, I haven't looked, but I'm really interested to hear what contrary studies you have to show absolute negatives given higher birth defect (not just mutation) rates you've seen.

That aside, holy grieving bison!
posted by Cold Lurkey at 10:55 PM on October 26, 2011


@ColdLurkey It came out within the last few years, and examined migrating birds through the region. I don't have the link on me, and don't have time to look for it right now, but I am about 90% sure it was linked to in one of the previous metafilter threads. If you memail me on the weekend I can try and look.

It *may* have been on the CBC Radio show Quirks and Quarks, as I seem to recall hearing about in on the radio before I saw it on Mefi.
posted by Canageek at 12:32 PM on October 27, 2011


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