Tītī study investigates possible exposure to radiation

By Harata Brown

A senior physics lecturer from The University of Auckland says he wants to work with Māori as well as conservationists responsible for the protection of Titi 'Mutton-birds'  to see whether the birds have been exposed to radiation seen in Japan.

The Tītī bird nests in the southern districts of the South Island especially in the districts of the Titi Islands and Steward Island

However it is an emigrational bird, which also feeds in its winter on the waters offshore from Japan.

David Crofcheck says “Remember in 2007, the Fukushima incident where three nuclear reactors were swamped and dumped a  tremendous amount of radioactive particles in the water and wouldn’t you know it that's where the birds migrate”

This Nuclear Physics expert says that he wants to see whether radioactive isotope caesium 134 fallout from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has affected these birds.

“Even though the ocean diffuses the radioactive participants the birds may still be exposed to radioactive caesium”

Manu Tītī is a traditional food for Māori, and today the harvest season started.

“No, they shouldn't be worried. There is already a study suggesting that the chicks’ meat is perfectly safe to eat” says David.

Krofcheck said consultation with Māori, the Rakiura Tītī Islands Administering Body, about the research will begin as soon as possible.