Nature has a wonderful way of healing and regenerating and there’s no better example than what’s going on at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific.
In 1954, the atoll was rocked by the most powerful American atom bomb ever exploded – a thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima. The test explosion shook islands 100 miles away and left a crater a mile wide. Bravo Crater became the Ground Zero of Bikini.
Now, more than fifty years later, a team of scientists has been surprised and delighted to discover that the crater is now home to a thriving underwater ecosystem. The scientists - from Australia, the US, Germany, Italy and the Marshall Islands - found corals up to 24 ft high with 10-inch thick trunks.
The scientists think a nearby atoll is probably seeding the coral recovery, and because the island is rarely visited, the coral is left to recover.
Zoe Richards, from James Cook University in Australia, was one of those who dived into the crater. “I didn’t know what to expect – some kind of moonscape, perhaps,” she said. “But it was incredible, we saw plenty of action going on, some really striking individual colonies.”The team was commissioned by the Marshall Islands government to investigate Bikini for the first time since the tests, partly to see if a small diving industry could safely be expanded.Ms Richards said the ability of Bikini’s corals to bounce back from a single huge destructive event was proof of their resilience. That didn’t mean, however, that the threat to coral reefs around the world from climate change had been overstated.