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#ChernobylFrogs16 Day 3 Running from the lab to the field

First day processing frogs here in Chernobyl. Early in the morning I went to the lab at the field station in Chernobyl city (by the way a place that although inside the exclusion zone, is inhabited by ca. 700 people, mostly workers for the construction of the new sarcophagus in the power plant). Processing the frogs was, as expected, incredibly time consuming… lI spent almost the entire day in the lab, from 10 in the morning to 17, no stops, not even for lunch…

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I measured and weighed each frog, andI took samples of: skin microbiome, femur and tibia muscles, three different samples of liver, blood, sperm, bones for skeletochronology… A total of thirteen tubes for each individual. That should give us the opportunity to look at the effects of chronic exposure to low dose radiation from as many angles as possible.

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And, I may have already interesting results… extremely preliminary results, no doubt, after just looking at a few frogs from a single highly contaminated locality.. There were couple of odd things in the frogs from this locality. We will need wait before extracting to early interpretations, but they are thing very suggestive of negative effects to radiation exposure…

So, after expending the day in the lab, it was time for a nice afternoon walk to our hotel.. But, I was stopped together with my Belgian colleagues by the local police while taking some photos in the area. All was solved after a few phone calls and a few papers..

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After a quick dinner, we went back to the field. On our way, we stopped at the Orthodox St. Elias church in the middle of the exclusion zone. Quite a strange feeling to see such abandoned church but anyway with plenty of sings of recent and constant human visits..

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We finally stopped in a medium-contaminated area (2-5 microSv/h) for sampling. A nice rich sour rounded by ponds and marshes, again with plenty of fire-bellied toads and water frogs calling. And what a difference with the painful, exhausting, place from yesterday… In no more than 40 minutes, 18 male treefrogs were in our bags. Easy area to walk, with water up to knees, and hard sediments.. We continued our search for more localities over a vast area in medium and low contaminated areas, but after a substantial drop in temperature, calling activity was very low, and no more frogs were caught. At around 1AM we decided that it was enough for the day and headed back to our hotel. Anyway, on our return to the hotel, a wolf crossed just in front of our car!! Just a quick glimpse of a greyish wolf, but amazing!!

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The plan for Day 4 is exactly the same, processing last night individuals, and try to catch from on different localities during the night (let’s see what kind of weather we have…). No much radiation accumulated today, only 3 microSv, for a total of 41 during the entire trip.

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