Swans bask in warm waters from Ukrainian nuclear plant during winter freeze

Valentyn Ogirenko
·1 min read

By Valentyn Ogirenko

OSTROH, Ukraine (Reuters) - Dozens of swans have flocked to a reservoir in western Ukraine this winter, evading snow and ice to enjoy the warm waters discharged from a nearby nuclear power plant.

Scientists say the birds migrate from all over Ukraine and elsewhere in eastern Europe to the reservoir, which the Khmelnytskyi plant uses for cooling and thus never freezes over.

"There is no need to make an extra effort to get to the Black Sea as the birds feel comfortable here," Oksana Holovko, head of the science and research department at a nearby national nature park, told Reuters.

Since the water temperature does not drop lower than 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), the reservoir is also rich in crustaceans and pondweed which the swans can eat.

The lake, which is around 20 square km (7.7 square miles) in size, has turned into a local tourist spot.

"It is great to have such neighbours," a local resident told Reuters as she came to feed the swans.

"They come here every winter, which means they like the place and how people treat them. They feel good here. It is great when people preserve a humane attitude and birds can feel that."

According to Holovko, the reservoir is a home for other water birds during the Ukrainian winter season, where temperatures can drop sharply below zero.

(Writing by Margaryta Chornokondratenko; editing by Matthias Williams and Raissa Kasolowsky)