Two-headed wolves, enormous snakes, mutant fish from Chernobyl rivers and other creatures are thought to inhabit the exclusion zone. One of the most known monsters is catfish from Chernobyl cooling pond. Without doubt, radiation affects plants and animals that live in the contaminated areas. However, how can we be sure that giant contaminated catfish in the Chernobyl nuclear cooling pond is one of the mutants?
Radioactive Catfish Is Really Radioactive
In the first hours after the accident, workers of the CNPP were trying to cool down the reactor at all costs. They poured hundreds of liters of water into the damaged reactor. Later, they had to pump radioactive water from the building of the power plant into the cooling pond. More than 30 years have passed since then, the power plant is stopped and the cooling pond has become a home for many animals. Living in the reservoir, representatives of flora and fauna are affected by radioactive elements.
Nowadays, the area of the exclusion zone is mostly contaminated with Cesium-137 and Strontium-90. In particular, Cesium is intensively absorbed by the soil and the bottom of water reservoirs. Catfish, as bottom-dwelling fish, is among most affected creatures. Consequently, Chernobyl catfish can be called radioactive, but not mutant.
Why the Catfish in Chernobyl Isn’t Mutant?
The size of this fish is impressive and it is not because of the radiation. The accident of 1986 caused mutation in widlife, but there is no scientific evidence to prove that after the accident, Chernobyl fish mutated in such a way. You may wonder why the creatures in the cooling pond are so big if they’re not Chernobyl mutant fish. The answer is simple: the longer they live the bigger they get.
According to Denys Vyshnevskiy, Head of the Department of Flora and Fauna Ecology of the Chernobyl Radiation and Ecological Biosphere Reserve, the largest catfish caught in the pond for scientific purposes was 1.65 m – length like a height of a person. Sounds impressive, but on the other hand, wels catfish is the largest freshwater fish in Ukraine and Europe; also it is one of the largest in the world. It lives up to 100 years and can grow up to 5 m. With these measurements, weight can be around 100 kg. When it comes to food, representatives of this species are pretty unpretentious. They catch other fish, amphibians and even small waterfowl. Living in isolated reservoir makes no competition for this predator. Such conditions allow them to grow to their natural size and gives us no ground to relate Chernobyl and fish mutations. However, there is one mysterious thing about it.
Disappearance Of The River Monsters
When the last reactor was shut down and the water wasn’t pumped from the river into the cooling pond, water level began to fall. Workers blocked part of the diversion canal with dams to keep the water for technical needs. Some catfish were living in that part. Autumn 2018 was the last time when the creatures where seen there. In winter, their activity decreases. People expected to see them next spring, but huge creatures didn’t appear.
Rumors began to spread. Maybe Chernobyl mutant fish, as some people said, were caught by the workers of the exclusion zone. However, fish and animals tend to accumulate Cesium in their muscles and liver. Eating them is undesirable and even dangerous for the humans. Moreover, law prohibits fishing in Chernobyl. On the other hand, they might have been released into the river as long as the water level in the canal was decreasing.
Anyways, we hope to see catfish there again. We invite you to join one of our Chernobyl tours and check it out.