Animals of Chernobyl: the Lasting Effects of a Nuclear Disaster

In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster shocked the world, and – even after the more recent Fukushima nuclear disaster – it remains the most devastating nuclear meltdown ever.

Photo Credit: FOCC

Photo Credit: FOCC

Around the plant, which is in the north of the Ukraine, an approximately 1,000-square-mile “Exclusion Zone” was created to bound the irradiated area. One estimate suggests that some parts of the Exclusion Zone may not be safely inhabited by humans for another 20,000 years, though it is possible to visit without receiving a lethal dose of radiation (in fact, plenty of people do).


Against all odds, a few hundred people, mainly elderly, do continue to live in small villages in the Zone. Unfortunately, within this small population, cancer is a major problem.

For over 30 years the Exclusion Zone has been bathed in radiation, presumably causing changes in plant and animal life, while areas just 10-15 miles away are almost entirely clean. Of course, scientists have been studying the ecological differences between these environments. Dr. Timothy Mousseau, who has studied these differences for years, gives us a peek at the natural life of the Exclusion Zone in the video below. Radioactive mushrooms? Check. Radioactive spiderwebs? Totally. Dr. Mousseau has also begun visiting Fukushima, Japan, the only other site of a level 7 nuclear event in the world, to conduct similar testing.


Have a look at a recent trip to Chernobyl to study animals, plants, and insects: