Investigators are investigating the continuing dumping of thousands of lobsters and crabs on beaches in the North East of England. These scenes are being called the ‘worst they have ever seen’ by local residents.
The Environment Agency confirmed samples had been taken from the sea creatures, water and sediment for laboratory analysis after the dead and alive animals began appearing on the sand along the Teeside coast between Marske and Saltburn, North Yorkshire, in Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, and further north at Seaham.
It is understood that lab testing will detect any pollution in the water and also analyse dead marine life for parasites or disease.
Scientists previously blamed seismic surveys, which are involved. To search for offshore oil or gas reserves, blasting the seafloor with airguns. for the deaths of whales and other marine life.
The blasts, which are loud enough to penetrate through the ocean for miles, can affect sea creatures, such as whales, turtles and dolphins, and can lead to the abandonment of habitat, disruption of mating and feeding, beach strandings, and even death.
Professor Alex Ford, who works at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Plymouth, suggested pollution, natural storms or harmful algal blooms (HABs), which can also be influenced by organic pollution, were a likely explanation for the shocking scenes.
He said while seismic tests off the North Sea coast impacted the behaviour and physiology of whales and dolphins, they were unlikely to blame for the deaths of the thousands of crabs and lobsters in recent weeks.
HARTLEPOOL: Dead crabs and lobsters began to appear at Seaton Carew beach (pictured), which lies along the Tees Bay, in Hartlepool earlier this month
MARSKE: Piles of dead crabs and sea creatures were also seen washed up on the beach between Saltburn and Marske, North Yorkshire
REDCAR: The dead sea creatures also appeared in Redcar as the Environment Agency confirmed that samples have been taken from the sea creatures, water and sediment
He told MailOnline: ‘I think there could be a number of possibilities for the recent dead marine life washed up on the shores in Teeside. These could include natural storms, a pollution event, or harmful algal blooms (HABs) which can also be influenced by organic pollution.
‘Autumnal storms often wash marine life onto the shores around this time and this is often characterised by a mixture of marine creatures and seaweed washing up on the incoming tide.
‘What appeared interesting about this event was the large number of crustaceans species (crabs and lobster) which washed up.
‘What organisations such as the Environment Agency and Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS) will be looking to establish is whether there were any chemical contaminants or toxic algae in the water.
‘In addition, they will be assessing whether the crabs and lobsters have any known diseases from bacteria, viruses or parasites which can kill off large numbers.
‘Sometimes harmful algal blooms (HABs) can lead to this and I suspect that will also be on the Environment Agency’s radar. ‘
‘If it was just one group of animals then I might put it down to disease. If it was lots of varieties of animals it could be storm, pollution or an algal event.’
While some theories have emerged of seismic testing being the cause of the dead sea creatures washed up on shore the scientist said he would ‘rank this lower down on his list of causes’.
He added: ‘With regards to seismic testing, it’s the first I have heard of this theory.
‘There is a lot of testing in Newcastle and along the North Sea and noise is also created during pile driving but I am not aware of any study before that would link this to mass death.
‘Whilst seismic testing is known to impact the behaviour and physiology (e.g hearing) of whales and dolphins due to their sensitive hearing and we know invertebrates are sensitive to noise, I’m not aware of any seismic testing resulting in just large numbers of dead crustaceans being washed up on the shore.
Campaigners have previously blamed seismic surveys of the sea floor for the deaths of whales and other marine life as these noises can the animals either by causing temporary and permanent hearing loss, abandonment of habitat or disruption of mating. However experts think this is unlikely to be to blame for the deaths of thousands of crabs and lobsters in the North East
Pictured: Hundreds of dead and dying crabs along the shore at Redcar, North Yorkshire, as scientists continue to look for a cause
A dead crab lies on the sand at a beach in Redcar, North Yorkshire as the Environment Agency continues to carry out its investigations into the possible causes
Dead crabs and sea creatures were left piled on top of each other on a beach between Saltburn and Marske-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, this month
‘I would rank this lower down my list of causes for the marine life along the shore line at this point in time.
‘That is not to say it is not a cause but I would be intrigued if it was.’
Speaking on the long term impact of the dead crustaceans appearing on beaches Mr Ford added: ‘If this is a disease this could affect the sea creatures in the area that feed off them and it means a proportion of their food will be taken away.
‘It could also affect local fisheries and could see them decline.’
Wind turbines are currently being installed in the North East England Sea near the mouth at the Tees. Recently, ships have been performing seismic tests.
Experts think that this is unlikely to have been the cause for the deaths in the North East of thousands of lobsters and crabs.
Ford stated: “They do pile driving when they build wind farms, which creates noises and vibrations. But I would put this in a comparable category to seismic surveys for oil & gas.
It is less likely to occur until natural storms and algal blooms, chemical pollution, or disease are ruled out.
Greenpeace spokesperson told MailOnline that he was unaware of any cases of marine life dying or crustaceans dying due to offshore wind farm construction.
“I believe that marine life tends towards moving away from offshore wind farm constructions, and then returns to greater numbers after completion (due the reef effect).
This week Marske resident Sharon Bell, who walks the stretch of beach near her home every day, said the numbers of creatures have steadily increased over the past two weeks.
Christopher and she were out photographing the sunrise on Monday morning with their husband Christopher. They arrived at the beach to find large piles of dead and live crabs and lobsters all over it.
Mrs Bell, 48 years old, has lived in the area 21 years. She said: “They spent the next 4 hours trying to return any living ones into the water.
“I was on my regular walk from Marske, Saltburn, and I was shocked and saddened when I saw waist deep seaweed, full of thousands of dead and live crabs and lobsters of all kinds, in some parts.
“I have never seen anything similar.”
“My husband and me have spent hours placing as many live ones back in the sea as possible, there is something very, very wrong here. This has been happening for several weeks along our coast, and no one is doing anything to stop it.
She added: ‘It was just awful to see. It has been steadily growing over the last few weeks, but it is nothing like I have ever seen. It was so deep in certain parts and piled so high.
Carl Clyne (42), a local resident, said that he first saw the dead crabs while walking his dog along Seaton Carew Beach on October 6.
Hartlepool Mail was informed by him that there were dead crabs in every rockpool and quite a few along the waterline among the seaweed.
“I walk down there quite often, I’ve never seen it before.”
Anna Turley, a former Redcar MP, took to Twitter to express her concern about the situation. This is getting apocalyptic.
Jacob Young, a Conservative MP, told the Northern Echo that it was “deeply concerning” that this seemed to be going on along our coast.
“I have raised the matter with Ministers and will continue to do so until cause is established.”
Monday’s confirmation by the Environment Agency that it had launched an investigation into the strange occurrence on the Teeside coast, to determine if high levels of emissions were to blame, was confirmed Monday.
MailOnline was informed by a spokesperson for the Environment Agency that hundreds of dead crabs were found along the Tees Estuary and adjacent beaches.
“Samples containing water, sediment, mussel, and crab have been collected. These samples will be sent to our labs for analysis to see if there were any pollution incidents that may have contributed to the animal’s deaths. Cefas labs have also been provided samples for disease analysis.
“If you are aware that pollution is affecting wildlife, please call the Environment Agency at 0800 87060.
These scenes take place as Boris Johnson prepares in Glasgow to receive global leaders for the Cop26 climate summit. He wants countries to commit reducing their carbon emissions.
Last week, Mr Johnson unveiled his Net Zero strategy to turn Britain green by 2050 – but was warned by the Treasury that taxes and consumer costs could rise to cover the estimated £1trillion bill.
Johnson said that he was not afraid of ‘leading the charge’ and that history is never written by those who sit behind the class.
He claimed that Russia is following China’s lead, even though President Xi Jinping and President Putin are expected both to ignore the Cop26 summit.
According to the Government switching from fossil fuels into clean energy can help reduce import dependence and protect families from price rises.
It is estimated that 440,000 jobs with good pay can be created in the next decade.
As well as clean flights, a shift to electric cars by 2035, and gas boilers out by 2030, there will be a focus on encouraging homeowners to be more environmentally-conscious. It could be possible to incentivise mortgage lenders so that they prioritize properties with better energy ratings.
However, there are growing concerns from the Tory backbenches at the consequences of the push – which economists say is likely to cost £1trillion over 30 years, although the bill for dealing with climate change would almost certainly be higher.