Quantcast

'Beast From the East' Drives Sea Life Die-Off

Animals
London Mudlark / Facebook

March certainly came in like a lion in the UK and Ireland, as "the Beast from the East" brought freezing temperatures, up to 20 inches of snowfall and travel disruptions to the British Isles.

But what was disruptive for the region's human inhabitants was deadly for its marine life. Hundreds of thousands of lobsters, starfish, crabs and other creatures washed up dead or dying on beaches on the UK's eastern coast, Buzzfeed News reported Monday.


"There are places where you are ankle-deep, or calf-deep, in animals," Yorkshire Wildlife Trust worker Bex Lyman said.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust worked with local fisherman to separate live lobsters from the dead, with the aim of returning them to the ocean when the weather warms.

It's worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed," Lyman told The Guardian.

Rodney Forster, a marine biologist at the University of Hull, told Buzzfeed he'd counted 24 types of fish so far.

Forster explained the cold is likely to blame. Ocean temperatures dropped from 5 to 2 degrees Celsius in less than a week. "For a lot of creatures, that really pushes them to their lower limits, especially the warm-water species ... we've seen washed up," he told Buzzfeed.

Waves caused by the storm, as well as high tides, also contributed.

Colleen Suckling, a lecturer in marine biology at Bangor University, wrote in The Conversation that this isn't the first time cold temperatures have caused sea-life die-offs, since they tend to make the animals lethargic.

Previous starfish die-offs occured on the coasts of Maryland in 1960, the Isle of Man in 1999, and Ireland in 2009.

"Starfish may be at particular risk of strandings after storms because of a behaviour known as "'starballing,'" Suckling wrote. Starballing is when the creatures will tuck in their arms to create a spherical shape, allowing currents to move them swiftly across the ocean floor. But during storms, the waves move them too far and strand them on beaches.

But while these events have happened before, the concern is that they might become more frequent due to climate change. As Futurism pointed out, global warming could lead to increases in the factors that led to the die-off: a polar vortex event bringing cold weather from the arctic and an intense storm.

For now, there's still plenty of work to do cleaning up from last week's disaster.

As Lyman tweeted on March 6, "That's it, there's nothing left alive to rescue. So now we clean up the #plasticpollution."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A roller coaster on the Jersey Shore flooded after Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Hurricane_Sandy_New_Jersey_Pier.jpg: Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen / U.S. Air Force / New Jersey National Guard / CC BY 2.0

New Jersey will be the first state in the U.S. to require builders to take the climate crisis into consideration before seeking permission for a project.

Read More
The Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu speaks on Jan. 26 during a press briefing on studying the 2019-nCoV coronavirus and developing a vaccine to prevent it. Roman Balandin / TASS / Getty Images

Editor's note: The coronavirus that started in Wuhan has sickened more than 4,000 people and killed at least 100 in China as of Jan. 27, 2020. Thailand and Hong Kong each have reported eight confirmed cases, and five people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the illness. People are hoping for a vaccine to slow the spread of the disease.

Read More
Sponsored
Healthline ranks Samoas, seen above, as the 11th healthiest Girl Scout Cookie. brian / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Nancy Schimelpfening

  • Nutrition experts say healthy eating is about making good choices most of the time.
  • Treats like cookies can be eaten in moderation.
  • Information like total calories, saturated fat, and added sugars can be used to compare which foods are relatively healthier.
  • However, it's also important to savor and enjoy what you're eating so you don't feel deprived.

Yes, we know. Cookies aren't considered a "healthy" food by any stretch of the imagination.

Read More
Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on Oct. 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. John Lamparski / Getty Images

When you see an actor in handcuffs, they're usually filming a movie. But when Jane Fonda, Ted Danson, Sally Field, and other celebrities were arrested in Washington, D.C., last fall, the only cameras rolling were from the news media.

Read More
A solitary Dungeness crab sits in the foreground, at low tide on an overcast day. The crabs' shells are dissolving because of ocean acidification on the West Coast. Claudia_Kuenkel / iStock / Getty Images

As the Pacific Ocean becomes more acidic, Dungeness crabs, which live in coastal areas, are seeing their shells eaten away, according to a new study commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read More