Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Hundreds of Thousands of Mussels Found Baked to Death on New Zealand Beach

Oceans
Hundreds of thousands of green-lipped mussels (like those pictured) were found dead on a New Zealand beach. DianesPhotographicDesigns / iStock / Getty Images

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.

The problem isn't unique to New Zealand, however. A heat wave in June of 2019 had a similar effect on the mussels of Bodega Bay, California, causing the largest die-off in the area in 15 years.

"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."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less
Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less
Authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years. Dawn Ellner / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Jessica Corbett

As a United Nations agency released new climate projections showing that the world is on track in the next five years to hit or surpass a key limit of the Paris agreement, authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years.

Read More Show Less
Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned conservationist, desperately wants the world to pay attention to what she sees as the greatest threat to humanity's existence. Craig Barritt / Getty Images for TIME

By Jeff Berardelli

While COVID-19 and protests for racial justice command the world's collective attention, ecological destruction, species extinction and climate change continue unabated. While the world's been focused on other crises, an alarming study was released warning that species extinction is now progressing so fast that the consequences of "biological annihilation" may soon be "unimaginable."

Read More Show Less

Trending

A Starbucks employee in a mask and face shield at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on May 12, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP via Getty Images

Anyone entering a U.S. Starbucks from July 15 will have to wear a face mask, the company announced Thursday.

Read More Show Less