Remains on Bikini Island

The 1960s found Carl Mydans back in the Philippines with MacArthur, as well as other locations in the Pacific. In 1968, Mydans returned to Bikini with a team of experts who were conducting tests on the now-abandoned island. While the islanders had struggled to cope with their exile, Bikini had been destroyed.
In 1954, the Air Force and Army began preparations for a new series of testing that would include the first air-deliverable hydrogen bomb (codename: Bravo) ever detonated by the United States Operation Castle. In its aftermath, islanders and Americans alike were exposed to ash that caused illnesses symptomatic of radiation poisoning, such as skin lesions, hair loss, and the eventual development of cancer.
Twenty-two years after Operation Crossroads was set in motion, President Lyndon B. Johnson promised the Bikini natives, by then living in Kili, that they could return to their islands. In an effort to assure the islanders that its clean-up efforts were successful, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission issued a statement that said: "There's virtually no radiation left and we can find no discernible effect on either plant or animal life." By 1978, however, the people of Bikini were once again evacuated because of high levels of radioactive cesium and strontium in the water and in the soil.
Though Bikini is not available for the natives to live on, it has not been abandoned. The lagoon of the Bikini Atoll, where the wrecks of over 90 American and Japanese warships lie under about 100 feet of water, has become an exclusive diving spot for tourists from the United States and Japan since 1992. After much planning and construction, Bikini Atoll opened to visitors in June 1996 to provide an economic base for a possible future resettlement of Bikini.
Currently not on view
Date made
Mydans, Carl
place made
Marshall Islands: Ralik Chain, Bikini
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 7 in x 10 in; 17.78 cm x 25.4 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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