London, April 15 : A coral reef in the Bikini Atoll in Marshall islands that was nuked in 1954, has been verified by ecologists as having completely recovered from the devastation that it had undergone.
According to a report in New Scientist, three islands of Bikini Atoll were vapourised by the Bravo hydrogen bomb 50 years back, which shook islands 200 kilometres away.
But when a team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Australia, led by Zoe Richards, investigated the area recently, they found that it had recovered in the past 50 years.
Richards and colleagues reported a thriving ecosystem of 183 species of coral, some of which were 8 metres high. They also estimated that the diversity of species represents about 65% of what was present before the atomic tests.
"It was fascinating - I've never seen corals growing like trees outside of the Marshall Islands," said Richards.
According to ecologists, the nearby Rongelap Atoll is seeding the Bikini Atoll, and the lack of human disturbance is helping its recovery.
Although the ambient radiation is low, people have remained at bay.
"Apart from occasional forays of illegal shark, tuna and Napoleon Wrasse fishing, the reef is almost completely undisturbed to this day," said Maria Beger of the University of Queensland in Australia.
"There are very few local inhabitants and the divers who visit dive on shipwrecks, like the USS Saratoga, and not on the reef," he added.