Mass marine death along North Sea coast

Monday 5th March 2018

Marine deathBex Lynham

Tens of thousands of animals washed up on the beaches after the storm

Tens of thousands of marine animals have been washed up along the UK’s east coast following the cold temperatures and rough weather over the last week. Crabs, starfish, mussels and lobsters are ankle-deep in places along the Holderness coast in Yorkshire. Most of the animals are now dead – except for lobsters. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas team have been working alongside local fisherman rescuing the lobsters that are still alive - gathering them in buckets and taking them to tanks in Bridlington for care - with the aim of putting them back in the sea when the weather improves.

Similar scenes have been reported down the North Sea coast including Norfolk and Kent.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas team have been working alongside local fisherman rescuing the lobsters that are still alive

Bex Lynam, North Sea Marine Advocacy Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, says:
“There was a three degree drop in sea temperature last week which will have caused animals to hunker down and reduce their activity levels. This makes them vulnerable to rough seas – they became dislodged by large waves and washed ashore when the rough weather kicked in. Larger animals such as dolphins are more mobile and can save themselves by swimming away when this sort of thing happens.

“Lobsters are one of the few species still alive – that’s why we’re saving them with local fisherman. This area is very important for shellfish and we work alongside fisherman to promote sustainable fisheries and protect reproductive stocks. It’s worth saving them so that they can be put back into the sea and continue to breed.

Holderness Inshore is already designated as a Marine Conservation Zone. The government is due to announce a consultation into more marine conservation zones this year.

Dr Lissa Batey, Senior Living Seas Officer, The Wildlife Trusts, said:
“We can’t prevent natural disasters like this – but we can mitigate against declining marine life and the problems that humans cause by creating enough protected areas at sea and by ensuring that these sites are large enough and close enough to offer fish, crustaceans, dolphins and other marine life the protection they require to withstand natural events such as this.”

Marine creatures have been washed up on other coastlines too.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust report marine wildlife and debris washed up on the beach at NWT Holme Dunes near Hunstanton, in north west Norfolk.

Warden at the national nature reserve, Gary Hibberd said: “We’ve been out on the beach this morning and there is much more wash-up than we would normally see: crabs, squat lobsters, star fish, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, sun stars and welks. Our experts are there now identifying some of the more unusual wildlife, and we have at least four new records of crabs for the site, including hairy crab.”

Kent Wildlife Trust reports starfish being hit badly by the storm.