Hundreds of Thousands of Mussels Found Baked to Death on New Zealand Beach
Hundreds of thousands of mussels that cooked to death off the New Zealand coast are likely casualties of the climate crisis.
Resident Brandon Ferguson first drew attention to the deaths in a video posted on Facebook Feb. 9.
"THERES NO MORE MUSSELS AT THE BLUFF!! THEY'RE ALL DEAD THE WHOLE F*CKEN LOT," he wrote in shock.
Ferguson shot the video from Maunganui Bluff Beach on New Zealand's North Island, Business Insider reported. Ferguson said he discovered the green-lipped mussels while visiting the area with friends and family. The group had planned to gather mussels to eat when the tide went out, but instead found more than half a million of them already dead.
"It smelled like dead rotting seafood," Ferguson told Business Insider. "Some of the mussels were empty, some of them were dead ... Some were just floating around in the tide."
Ferguson speculated that the mussels died because of rising ocean temperatures and said he had witnessed similar die-offs of other shellfish in the area due to a combination of low tides and high water temperatures.
Marine scientist Andrew Jeffs of the University of Auckland largely supported Ferguson's hypothesis.
"The mussels die of heat stress. You imagine lying in the midday sun every day for four hours for the best part of a week. You'd be pretty sunburnt at the end of that," he told the New Zealand Herald, as the International Business Times reported.
A New Zealand government report found that sea-surface temperatures in the country had risen between 0.1 and 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade since 1981. The report noted that rising temperatures might force some species to move.
"If they are unable to move, they may not be able to survive," the report warned.
Jeffs further cautioned that mussels and other mollusks could be among the species to disappear from New Zealand entirely as oceans warm.
"These events are definitely becoming more frequent, and more severe," University of British Columbia biologist Christopher Harley told The Guardian at the time.
Ferguson said he posted the video in part because he wanted to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on marine life.
"It's getting worse and worse every year," he told Business Insider. "At times like this we should wake up and start respecting these places and pay attention to what is happening before we lose our 'taonga' [a Māori word meaning 'treasure'] for good."
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- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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