New mass deaths of sea animals discovered off Russia's Kamchatka

New mass deaths of sea animals discovered off Russia's Kamchatka

Authorities reported Monday, October 12, 2020, that a new mass die-off of marine animals has been discovered off the coast of Russia's Kamchatka, where mysterious toxic pollution along a 40 km (25 miles) stretch recently killed 95 percent of seabed animals and caused health hazards among surfers since September.

Kamchatka Governor Vladimir Solodov said he received reports from scientists and witnesses of dead marine creatures off the coast, following the initial discovery last week. 

Divers who studied the waters reported that 95 percent of seabed creatures were found dead, including sea urchins, octopi, seals, and starfish. Greenpeace Russia called the situation an "ecological disaster," which prompted authorities to investigate marine pollution.

"95 percent are dead," said Ivan Usatov of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in a meeting with other scientists and Solodov. "Some large fish, shrimps, and crabs have survived, but in very small numbers."

Solodov noted that neighboring beaches were not affected, but the evidence showed that "the scale of the occurrence is extremely large."

He added that the deaths were "almost certainly linked to climate change and other polluting effects we as humankind cause to the Pacific Ocean."

"We can’t say that a local man-made object near [the port city of] Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky was the cause," the governor said.

On Monday, Russian Academy of Sciences vice president Andrei Adrianov theorized that the mass die-off was caused by toxins from an algae bloom. 

This has been backed by leading Russian marine biologists, who took note of the presence of yellow foam covering the affected region seen from space.

In September, the toxic pollution was first reported by local surfers and swimmers, who suffered apparent chemical burns, vomiting, fever, coughing, and eye problems after going in the waters. Some developed lesions on their corneas and 11 people had to be taken to the hospital.

Solodov said he ordered authorities to conduct a comprehensive research project to examine the mysterious deaths. "We’ve encountered a new large-scale phenomenon that science has yet to comprehend."

Solodov has called for international researchers to join the investigation of the major ecological disaster. 

"The Kamchatka region faces a challenging environmental situation which involves the mass death of marine animals and hydrobionts in Avacha Bay of the Pacific Ocean." He noted, "The causes of this phenomenon remain unclear."

"We invite you to consider the possibility of joining the research group and help us to identify the causes of the pollution of the Pacific Ocean near Kamchatka."

"The research group will work remotely and examine the available analyses results and hypotheses of our scientists."

Featured image credit: Anna Strelchenko/Greenpeace Russia

Comments

Stanley Matthews 16 hours ago

Well noted Kate. I couldn't agree more. Reviewing the official Gov Alaska Fisheries reports is fascinating, as they thrust every possible alternative excuse at us for the Salmon decline, and consistently ignore the elephant in their room since around 2015/6.

Kate Millpointer 12 days ago

Isn't it interesting that the scientific method requires one look at ALL proximate causes of an effect. Since March 11, 2011 we have seen the rapid demise of first insects, then fish, then Orca and now mass die-offs of birds etc. The 'F' word--Fukushima--is never mentioned--even though 600 tons of HIGHLY radioactive water is being leaked and dumped into the Pacific EVERY DAY since the catastrophe. And they want to dump 1.2 million tons of more highly radioactive water straight into the drink as they have no more holding capacity in those big tanks all over Japan to contain it.

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